Dave Ildefonso’s production was greatly missed by Ateneo De Manila University after absorbing a 74-81 loss in Game One of the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Finals.
The second-generation cager struggled in his first appearance in the championship series at the collegiate level after finishing with six points and six turnovers. The tough defeat put the Blue Eagles on the brink of elimination for the first time since Game Three of the Finals in Season 80 against De La Salle University.
After a subpar performance, Ildefonso sought Tab Baldwin’s advice on how he can bounce back and play better in Game Two. The words that Ildefonso received from his head coach did the trick as they allowed him to overcome the jitters and have the proper mindset to play his usual game on the floor.
With their playoff lives on the line, he came out with a much-improved performance by putting up 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals in almost 30 minutes of action.
Ildefonso claimed that taking Baldwin’s advice to heart helped him be a more productive contributor which led them to grab a crucial 69-66 victory and force a rubber match on Friday.
“You said that I messed up really bad in Game One but thankfully, Coach Tab [Baldwin] and the other coaches really helped me calm down and really have a different mindset in this Game Two,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman. “Don’t play in the occasion, just play in the moment. So every possession, every quarter, we just got to take it one step at a time and thankfully, I got fewer turnovers in this game and I think that’s ‘cause of Coach Tab.”
“I had a different mindset and Coach Tab really just talked me down. I just really asked for help ‘cause I didn’t know what to do and the luxury of being coached by Coach Tab is you could always approach him,” Ildefonso shared.
“You can always ask and you can just put your hands up in the air and just ask what do I do coach? I’m just thankful for this time with Coach Tab and the coaching staff that we have and it’s a great program to win.”
Now set to play in the biggest game of his collegiate career yet, Dave Ildefonso will have to apply what he learned all year long as he tries to help the Blue Eagles hoist their fourth straight crown this season.