What does Dave Ildefonso's return to Ateneo mean?
Dave Ildefonso in action for NU
What does Dave Ildefonso's return to Ateneo mean?
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - January 13, 2020 - 11:19am

MANILA, Philippines – The prodigal son returns.

Dave Ildefonso has left National University to return to his home in Katipunan — Ateneo.

After helping the Blue Eaglets to the 2017 UAAP juniors title, the youngest son of former PBA great Danny Ildefonso transferred to NU, where his older brother Shaun de-camped to as well after leaving Ateneo in search of a better opportunity to play and enhance his chances of a pro career.

Two years later, with Danny out of the NU picture, there wasn’t much left to tie the youngest son down to the Sampaloc, Manila-based school. Shaun has one year left and transferring back will only not help.

After a delayed two-year courtship, Dave is joining Tab Baldwin and former high school teammates SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, Gio Chiu, Gian Mamuyac and Jolo Mendoza in Ateneo’s senior team (although he will have to sit a year out for his residency).

What does his return to Ateneo mean?

For starters, Ildefonso doesn’t have to worry about Ateneo’s defense shutting him down. Whenever Ateneo and NU played, Dave’s game went south. No doubt, Thirdy Ravena, Matt Nieto and Mamuyac shut him down. Now he’ll have a look-see on how they did it.

Having Dave gives the Blue Eagles a stud. A scoring stud. A big-time player who is willing to make the big plays and take the tough shots. He will add a lot of ceiling to the Blue Eagles, one who can also play both ends of the floor. Dave is now around 6’5”-6’6” and as tall as his father, and yet, can play the two-spot and the three giving Ateneo a lot of flexibility. His ability to get to the rim and even create will open up the game for Ateneo. Along with Dwight Ramos, they will give foes no respite.

Of course, this also means that Dave will not handle the ball as much under Baldwin’s system unlike during his days at NU. When he was with NU, it was the Bulldogs’ homegrown scoring stars in John Lloyd Clemente and Miguel Oczon who gave way to Dave. How he integrates himself into the Blue Eagles’ tried and tested system will be interesting.

It will be fun though to see when he is on the floor with his old teammates. When they led the Blue Eaglets to the Season 80 crown… five of them averaged in double figures — Belangel, Ildefonso, Kai Sotto who is now playing in the United States, Joaqui Manuel who is now with La Salle, and Credo.For now though, he has to assimilate himself once more. 

Dave deciding to return to the blue side of Katipunan Avenue also means that he spurned the University of the Philippines that sought to add him after they lose Ricci Rivero after Season 83. This doesn’t mean that it tilts the balance of power. There is a lot of time to add pieces to UP’s championship puzzle.

And it is the same with NU that is bringing up Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano soon.

But all that is for another time.

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