When Dave Ildefonso faced off against Ateneo back in September 22, 2018, Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin wanted him to rethink his decision to go to National University.
Despite figuring in a 46-72 beatdown during that game, the then-18 year old said that he had no regrets.
“I don’t think I made the wrong decision in switching schools,” Ildefonso shared.
“Whatever statement they were sending me, I didn’t get it.”
Two years later, however, the Ateneo High School product now returns home.
Over the weekend, the second generation cager made the decision to transfer to Ateneo after two years in NU. And during his talk with Baldwin, they made sure to recall that moment.
“Napag-usapan din namin. Nung sinabi niya ‘yun, wala akong hard feelings. I agree na ‘yung time na ‘yun, ‘yung paglipat ko ng NU was the right decision. Pero sa ngayon, tinitignan ko na ang right decision sa akin is lumipat ng Ateneo,” said Ildefonso after Mighty Sports’ practice at Greenhills West last Tuesday.
“Not a lot of people will agree with it, but it’s my life.”
According to Ildefonso, the decision to leave NU was a tough one. He found it hard to leave Bulldogs team manager Manny Sy and school owner Hans Sy, since the two have done so much for his family. His dad Danny was an ex-assistant coach for the Bulldogs, while his brother Sean is entering his senior year in NU. His sister Pia also transferred to Ateneo.
“Maraming nabigay sa amin ang NU community and bosses like sir Manny and Hans Sy.
“Naisip ko na before na lumipat, around last week of November to first week of December. I didn’t want to make any impulsive decisions. Pinag-usapan lang namin buong holiday. Pagdating ng January, tignan ko kung ano ang gusto ng heart ko. Pinag-isipan ko rin ng mabuti for one and a half months, nakapag-decide ako na bumalik sa Ateneo,” said Ildefonso.
“Kahit na mahirap yung decision, na-weigh ko na lahat ng mangyayari, positives and negatives kung lumipat ako or mag-stay ako. Nakapag-decide naman ako at happy ako sa decision ko,” he continued.
Besides a “better opportunity” to play for Gilas Pilipinas in Ateneo, what excites Ildefonso the most is his reunion with his former Blue Eaglets teammates SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, Geo Chiu, and the coaches, among others.
However, Ildefonso will have to sit out one year before being eligible to play in Season 84. During that time, he hopes to earn the trust of his teammates and the community once more.
“Sobrang excited ako kasi nandoon lahat ng kaibigan ko at coaches. Five years ako nandoon. Homecoming ko. Sana ma-welcome ako ng mga Ateneans with open arms kahit na iniwan ko sila ng saglit. Babalik naman ako and i-gain ko ‘yung trust ng ibang teammates, coaches, at alumni.”