The PBA’s 39th season would have been a perfect swan song for former two-time league MVP Danny Ildefonso.
Ildefonso, better known by his peers as DI (stands for his name’s initials), has been riding the bench for much of last season, battling through shoulder injury and slowed down by age. (He turns 37 on December 10).
Despite all that, Ildefonso remains committed to his duties as a pro in all of last season. For even when he knew he was way past his prime, the pride of Urdaneta, Pangasinan was unselfish enough to pass on everything he has learned since 1998 (his first year in the PBA) to incoming sophomore center June Mar Fajardo.
Since taking the 6’10” Fajardo to his wings, the Cebuano big man has emerged into a dominant threat inside the paint.
Fajardo is also the first to admit that his remarkable improvement in the game had a lot to do with the one-on-one tutoring he gets from his “teacher”.
“Tinuturuan ako lagi ni DI ng mga galaw sa loob,” Fajardo once shared.
Which is why at the opening of the PBA’s 39th season, it was quite unusual to see Ildefonso’s name nowhere to be found in Petron’s official roster.
Of course, whatever decision Petron management makes, is something that’s beyond Ildefonso’s nor the Boosters’ fans control anymore.
And should management fail to have a change of heart anytime this season in including Ildefonso back into the official lineup, I think it would be better to just let it remain that way. Instead, let’s all follow Fajardo’s basketball exploits.
Why? Because I personally believe, Fajardo’s emergence in the PBA is like seeing a bigger, younger, upgraded version of Ildefonso in the pro league.
And that could well be Ildefonso’s lasting legacy to the only PBA team he has played in 14 seasons.