Shaun Ildefonso confident amid NU heartbreaks
MANILA, Philippines – For two straight games, National University got dealt with a major heartbreak as the Bulldogs lost by one point in the final seconds. And in both games, an Ildefonso could have emerged as the hero.
“We still have 12 games left. No reason to give up now because I really believe we’re gonna make the Final Four,” said NU captain Shaun Ildefonso.
Just days after their 83-84 overtime loss against the Adamson Soaring Falcons, the youngsters again buckled in the endgame and gave up an 82-83 decision to the La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
Against the Falcons, Shaun's younger brother Dave sank a tough go-ahead layup with just 1.4 seconds left in overtime. But Adamson stole the game when first-year center Lenda Duoanga responded with a buzzer-beating triple.
Shaun could have also won it for the Bulldogs after hitting a wide-open triple in the final 28.2 ticks against La Salle. Kurt Lojera, though, answered right back to hand the Green Archers the one-point victory.
Amid the stinging losses, Shaun thinks there's a silver lining he can cling to as he works on his newfound confidence from the field.
“One thing that I lacked the first game was [I had] no confidence at all,” he said. “But now, if ever I’m getting the ball, no more hesitation. Good thing it was going in.”
Ildefonso scored a personal career-high for the second straight contest after erupting for 26 points and 5 steals against La Salle. He also sank a total of 4 shots from rainbow range on 9 attempts to account for nearly half of his team’s made threes.
“I didn’t really think I would play like that. I think this is the career-high of my entire life so far," said Shaun. "I really worked on my threes. First game, I wasn’t getting my touches, so I said, if I got it beyond the arc, I’ll just let go. Good thing it went in.”
As NU continues its agonizing search for that first win that keeps slipping away, Shaun remains confident that his teammates are on the right track in their campaign.
“Malakas ang paniniwala ko [na kaya naming mag Final Four] kahit dalawang talo na kami ngayon," he said. "Yung energy namin, hihigpitan pa namin next game.”
(I strongly believe that we can make it to the Final Four even though we already have two losses. We’ll amp up our energy for the next game.)
Shaun will see if his beliefs start to follow through as the Bulldogs next face the hyper-athletic UST Growling Tigers on Sunday, September 15 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Hopefully, I become more consistent not just in bringing energy to the team but also helping on offense like scoring,” he said. – Rappler.com