Proud Danny I a coach first to his standout boys
MANILA, Philippines – As he saw his sons walk off the Mall of Asia Arena court following the National U Bulldogs’ narrow escape of the UST Growling Tigers, Danny Ildefonso allowed himself to be a father, even for just a brief moment.
“After the game, yinakap ko na sila [at sinabi ko], ‘good game,’ kasi gusto ko, syempre, as a father, gusto ko mag excel sila… sabi ko nga it’s an answered prayer to us,” Ildefonso admitted after his sons Dave and Shaun starred in the Bulldogs' opening-day win in UAAP men's basketball on Saturday, September 8.
(After the game, I hugged them and I said, 'good game,' because as a father, I want them to excel. It was an answered prayer to us.)
But it didn’t take long for Danny I, a two-time PBA MVP, to return to their formal relations as his boys wear the Bulldogs jerseys while he's part of the NU coaching staff.
Dave had a sparkling UAAP debut, finishing with 19 points, 7 boards, and 4 assists to lead NU, while big brother Shaun finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds in his first game as a Bulldog after transferring out of Ateneo.
The duo combined to lead NU’s dominant attack in the third quarter, where they built a double-digit edge against UST, which tried to rally late but ultimately came up short in Aldin Ayo’s debut with the Tigers.
Before NU took the court against UST, Danny had a discussion with his head coachJamike Jarin, who made the mandate clear: Be a coach, not a father, when you’re on the sidelines.
It was a message Danny I took to heart, going as far as explaining it to his sons.
“Napagusapan na namin ni coach Jamike na wag kang magpapatawag ng tatay sa loob, dapat coach ang tawag, so yun an inexplain ko sa kanila,” he said.
(Coach Jamike and I discussed that they can't call me dad on court, I have to be a coach, and I explained that to them.)
That’s why even after watching his sons perform well enough that they’ll be making the sports headlines this weekend, Danny I couldn’t help but think of what he has to do next.
No, it’s not to celebrate with his boys for the accomplishment, big as it was. He was thinking about scouting reports, in-game adjustments, and the other type of things assistant coaches are supposed to have in mind.
Not every team in the UAAP is UST, and now other schools know how deadly the second-generation Bulldogs can be. Dave and Shaun won’t be playing this well every game – at least not this early in their college careers – and no one knows that better than the guy who was the face of the San Miguel Beermen at the turn of the century.
“Lalo kami mag-uusap. Spend more time, especially sa video, para makakapag adjust kami,” said the elder Ildefonso.
(We’re going to discuss some more. We’re going to spend more time, especially with video, so that we can adjust.)
“Adjust lang namin, within the system pa rin,” he later added. “Hindi yung adjust tayo na kahit ano mangyari, basta i-score mo, i-score mo.”
(Our adjustments will be within the system. I won’t tell them to just keep trying to score.)
Teaching his boys how to play consistently well when the opposition adjusts is challenging enough as it is without the familial aspect attached to the task for Danny I, although he has this working for him – Dave and Shaun are going to be ready to make their basketball careers their priority.
“Yung mga anak ko kasi hindi sila nag ce-celebrate. Taong bahay lang sila. Sabi ko, very thankful ako dahil nagtitiwala sila sa akin, nakikinig sila sa akin. Hindi sila lumalabas,” said Danny I, who added a little joke:
“Dahil nandoon ako, wala silang magagawa,” he laughed.
“Hindi, joke lang. Sabi ko nga, may time na dadating yung panahon na hihiwalay kayo sa akin, pero ngayon, dahil sa basketball ang gusto niyo, magtiwala kayo sa akin.”
“Basketball muna kami ngayon.”
(My sons don’t celebrate. They just stay at home. I’m very thankful because they trust me, they listen to me. They don’t go out, because I’m there, they can’t do anything. But I’m just joking. I did say there will be a time they would be on their own, but right now, because their focus is basketball, they have to listen to me. We’re concentrating on basketball for now.) – Rappler.com