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Eagles hoping for Ildefonso explosion

All eyes will be on veteran Dave Ildefonso as Ateneo de Manila University will need to see more of his presence in the crucial Game 2 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 men’s basketball tournament best-of-three finals series against University of the Philippines today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With their backs against the wall, the Blue Eagles need all the help they can get to extend the series to a deciding game.

Ildefonso’s performance could be a big factor in Ateneo’s mission to reclaim the throne it lost against the same rival, which is now a win away from a repeat.

The son of Philippine Basketball Association great Danny Ildefonso was limited to just one point in the second half after scoring nine in the first two quarters of the Blue Eagles’ 66-72 loss in the series opener last Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“You’ve got to give credit to UP’s defenders also. They are throwing a lot of very good defenders on Dave — James Spencer, Harold Alarcon — they are very good defenders, you can even call them elite,” Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga said.

Ildefonso shot 3-of-12 from the field — missing all four in the second half. His lone point came from a split in the foul line with 1:23 left that pushed Ateneo within two, 66-68.

Still, Arespacochaga remains confident that Ildefonso can bounce back in the next game.

“We’re also confident with Dave. Aside from scoring, he does a lot of things for us. So, how to get Dave going… Dave is a very mature player. He’s a pro, I mean, that’s his attitude,” he said.

The deputy of head coach Tab Baldwin said that while Ildefonso’s contribution would give the Blue Eagles a lift, other Ateneo players are expected to step up for a common cause.

“We’re not gonna go to the extent that we’re gonna run 10 plays for Dave. But, definitely, we’ll take a look at how we can get Dave cleaner looks. We’re hoping he’ll be able to shoot better next game,” Arespacochaga said.

Game 3, if necessary, is set this Monday.

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