Making it to the national team prompted Dave Ildefonso to leave National University (NU) after two years and make an Ateneo de Manila University homecoming.
Ildefonso, 19, confirmed earlier reports of his return to the Blue Eagles’ nest and explained his decision through a lengthy post on Instagram and Twitter on Monday night.
“I have made the decision to return to Ateneo to continue my basketball journey. My biggest basketball dream has always been to represent the country in major international meets and I feel that this is the best path to that fulfillment of my dream,” he said.
It was a good move for the former Blue Eaglet as Ateneo’s veteran head coach Tab Baldwin is set to be named as program director of Gilas Pilipinas.
Ildefonso was a key cog for the national youth team in the past highlighted by a stint in the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Greece.
The 6-foot-3 swingman was also included in the national pool for the first window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers slated next month.
Ildefonso put up averages of 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in two seasons with NU, but his efforts were not enough to save the Bulldogs from a fourth consecutive Final Four exit in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) under coach Jamike Jarin.
The dismal results led to the replacement of Jarin along with his assistant Danny Ildefonso, Dave’s father and PBA legend, with bemedalled NU juniors coach Goldwyn Monteverde and his staff.
Still, the young Ildefonso has nothing but sweet words for NU.
“I would like to thank first and foremost Sir Manny Sy (team manager) and Sir Hans Sy (school owner) for all the support they game throughout my stay in NU. I would also like to thank the NU community for welcoming me with open arms and for allowing me to represent the school,” he said.
“A big part of my heart will always belong to the Bulldogs and the NU supporters who were with me and the team through the toughest times,” he added.
Ildefonso, who won a title with the Blue Eaglets in 2017, will have to sit out a year before being eligible to play for Ateneo in Season 84 and get reunited with his high school teammates SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, Geo Chiu and Gian Mamuyac.