In the first half of Ateneo’s game against the University of the Philippines, Dave Ildefonso struggled and missed all seven of his shots.
But the unwavering confidence coach Tab Baldwin has in the second-generation star is what has kept him going.
“I think what really helped me out was when coach Tab really pulled me aside and just talked to me, just gave me some Tab Baldwin wisdom which I always am welcome to receive,” he said.
“He just told me to just have fun. It’s a big moment, it’s a big game, so many people are watching, and he told me that he just has so much belief in me, and he told me that he’s gonna have my back whatever happens. I told him that I’d have his back, too. That just helped me out.”
The Blue Eagles’ triumph late in the second round of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball competition is the result of that bond between the player and the coach.
This was the case again on Saturday, when Ildefonso quickly found his rhythm and scored 12 of his 15 points, along with seven rebounds, in the third quarter to lead Ateneo to a 75-67 victory over UP.
And he can only thank Baldwin for it.
But Baldwin countered that it’s not difficult to fully trust someone like Ildefonso and that it’s not rocket science.
He is willing to give credit for the 6-foot guard’s perseverance in the face of hardship, both on and off the field.
“Dave is dealing with a lot of pressure from a lot of different angles, I should say. And, I did tell him — I did tell him that no matter what, he’s my guy,” remarked the strict mentor.
“There’s not an incident that can happen that backs me off of this guy. I’ve grown to know him over the last three years, and this is a man of true character. This is a man of real substance, as a human being. He can go out there and play like a dog, he doesn’t lose one thing from me. But he won’t.”
Ildefonso, for his part, is merely itching to prove his mettle, whether it’s against UP or any other adversary, and support the Blue Eagles’ endeavors to get back to the pinnacle.
“I just try to keep my head down and just keep working, and just try to get the shots that I can take,” he said. “And just keep moving on. Confidence-wise, this game is really gonna help me. And it’s really gonna help the team.”