This appears in the PBA website.
Stewing on the Danny Ildefonso situation
by rick olivares
Between Luol Deng being traded by his team of 10 years the Chicago Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Danny Ildefonso being let go of his team of 15 years that is San Miguel/Petron, I am constantly reminded that it is not a perfect world that we live in.
None of the other Bulls stars -- Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni, Thabo Sefolosha -- who flirted with greatness before ultimately being shot down by a tougher foe, are around. Kirk Hinrich was traded before the Bulls realized that he was a loss so they brought him back for a second go-around.
Deng outlasted all of them until he was traded a couple of days ago.
It’s like that for that team that Ron Jacobs put together in San Miguel in the 90s to early 2000s. There was Olsen Racela, Freddie Abuda, Dorian Peña, Danny Seigle, Dondon Hontiveros, and Danny Ildefonso.
I previously wrote about Ildefonso being one of a handful of players to have suited up for only one club in their entire career. Like Deng, only serving longer by five years, Ildefonso outlasted all his other teammates until management showed that ‘iba ang may pinagsamahan’ is only a snazzy advertising tagline.
When he put on the jersey of Meralco the other night and starred in his debut with the Bolts, Danny’s now fallen out of that select group that now only includes Alvin Patrimonio (Purefoods 17 years), Rey Evangelista (Purefoods 14 years), Jayjay Helterbrand (Ginebra 13 years), Mark Caguioa (Ginebra 12 years), Jimmy Alapag and Harvey Carey (Talk ‘N Text 11 years), James Yap (Purefoods, B-Meg, San Mig 10 years), and Samboy Lim (San Miguel 10 years).
Ildefonso cares about that. Sure, he is hurting about that. It isn’t simply the years put in but being cast out of his family. Or so he thought.
Danny feels he still has something left in those legs of his. So he took his talents elsewhere.
But as I asked previously -- is this a perfect world we live in?
Not at all.
When teams’ runs are over it is imperative they have to reload.
When you look at that team that came up from the amateurs as Northern Consolidated Cement which formed the nucleus of those champion squads under former coach Norman Black, they were eventually scattered to the four winds. Even during their run, they let go off some players to make way for up and comers like Ato Agustin.
Remember when plays that ended with an open shot and an uncontested lay-up coming off a series of passes used to be described as a “San Miguel play”? That’s history with the winds of change.
These current Petron Blaze Boosters are like pedal-to-the metal athletes. They are a bunch of “Big Shot Robs” as several players are all capable of nailing that clutch shot (although Alex Cabagnot is their main closer).
There comes a point when management has to think not with their hearts but with their head. A Petron team official who refused to be identified said that in the professional world or for anywhere for the matter, there is no room for sentiment.
Clearly, the team that Petron is building is one that is going with the youth movement. Arwind Santos and Cabagnot, veterans though they may be, still have not played in the league for at least a decade.
They’ve got exciting wing players like Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz. They’ve got June Mar Fajardo who has only scratched the surface of his potential. They’ve got a workhorse in Doug Kramer. Jason Deutchman is probably the second coming of Tony dela Cruz.
For Meralco on the other hand, the onus on them is to now win. In the past three years, they’ve been tinkering non-stop with that roster.
They too have a mostly young squad with Jared Dillinger, John Wilson, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Cliff Hodge, and Chris Timberlake to go with battle-tested vets like Reynel Hugnatan, Gary David, and now, Ildefonso.
Sometimes, I wonder if Meralco is where ‘old’ warhorse centers go to play their out their final years. Marlou Aquino did. Everyone thought the Bolts were Asi Taulava’s last stop before he went to the ABL before finding a way back to the league with the Air21 Express.
Aquino and Taulava both won titles in previous stops but were unable to help the expansion Meralco club. With the Bolts close to done with its line-up tinkering (again they cannot keep doing this if they want to get somewhere), it is hoped that Ildefonso will do more than play out his last years with them. He’d like to help restore Meralco to its MICAA glory and go out with a bang.
Now for Ildefonso and Meralco, that would make it a perfect world.