MANILA, Philippines – In his first game against his old NU Bulldogs team, Dave Ildefonso had the last laugh after the Ateneo Blue Eagles pulled away late for a 74-64 win on Tuesday, April 5.
Two years after leaving the place he called home for his first two seasons as a college player, the 21-year-old is pleased that the Bulldogs are starting to build a new identity, and actually gave the Eagles their biggest scare of the new season so far.
“I was really excited to play NU because I want to see how they were this year, and I’m really happy for them,” he said after the win. “They have a great system this year. They’re in really good hands with coach Jeff (Napa).”
With a 30-game winning streak on the line, Ateneo was pushed against the ropes until the fourth quarter, and actually clung to a single point, 60-59, midway through the frame.
However, being the elite competitors that they are, the mighty Eagles still secured the endgame with a convincing 14-5 finishing kick, highlighted by a lucky long three by captain Gian Mamuyac for a 72-62 gap.
Over at the losing end, Dave’s older brother Shaun was nothing but proud of his teammates’ stand despite having somewhat of a late meltdown.
“We already expected [Dave’s] production, but we planned well on how to defend Ateneo,” said Shaun. “Hopefully, people see that and put in their respect. That’s the first time Ateneo felt pressured the whole season. I won’t sugarcoat it. They know they were pressured.”
Meanwhile, Dave also didn’t hold back on his brother, but of course, it was built off nothing but good, old sibling rivalry.
“It was fun facing him. He’s a much more physically gifted athlete than I am. It was really hard guarding him especially when he was going downhill, but I tried to sag on him a bit more because he has no shot,” he said.
“That wasn’t in the scouting report, I promise,” head coach Tab Baldwin chimed in.
“That’s in my scouting report,” Dave continued in jest. “I really know his weaknesses, and some of the guys there, I played with them so long, so I kind of know their strengths and weaknesses, so I tried to help my team out on defense. Sadly it didn’t work out as well, but we got the win.”
Clearly, both sides had their share of things they could be proud about with this game, and it was simply a case of Ateneo being just too good. It’s at a point where even double-digit losses can send a statement, and NU certainly made that this game. – Rappler.com