Danny Ildefonso's birthday greeting for protégé June Mar Fajardo

Danny Ildefonso (left) is no longer with the Petron Blaze Boosters, but he wishes June Mar Fajardo well.

The minute June Mar Fajardo was scooped up by the Petron Blaze Boosters, Danny Ildefonso wanted nothing else but to help train the young big man. It’s his way of paying it forward, his way of giving back to the team and to the sport of basketball.
 
“Ikaw June Mar, huwag ka masyadong magkakain ng papaitan, masama iyan sa katawan mo (You need to stop eating ‘papaitan,’ that’s bad for your health),” Ildefonso told Fajardo days before he made his PBA debut. The lessons, handed down from the veteran to the rookie, covered a lot of things. Lessons in basketball were sandwiched with lessons about life and health. Post up moves were taught along with the proper ways of treating fans and being a good teammate.
 
Fajardo struggled in the first two conferences of his PBA career but Ildefonso kept helping out even if he had an injured shoulder. It all paid off during the 2013 PBA Governors’ Cup where Fajardo showed the league that he is out to be the most dominant player out there.
 
The behemoth from Pinamongahan, Cebu, turned 24 last November 16. Ildefonso, still apart from Petron and absent a PBA contract used a video recording to send his greetings to his star student.
 
“Idol, happy birthday sayo ha (Idol, happy birthday),” Ildefonso said. “Good luck sa iyong career. Sana matupad lang ng mga pangarap mo sa buhay at as a basketball player (Good luck on your career. I hope you achieve all of your dreams in life and as a basketball player).”
 
During the recently concluded season, Ildefonso told everyone that he expected Fajardo to eclipse his two Most Valuable Player awards. Even if he is currently not training Fajardo, he still thinks the young player can get it done.
 
“Alam ko matutupad lahat iyun kasi masipag ka at mabait kang bata. Sana huwag kang magbago ha? Sana huwag lalaki ulo mo, yan ang importante (I know you’ll achieve all of that because you work hard and you’re a good kid. Don’t change, okay? I hope you don’t turn out to be swell-headed),” Ildefonso continued with his greeting, which was also a continuation of Fajardo’s education.

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“Sana kung ano yung natutunan mo sa akin, sana ma-i-share mo rin sa ibang players (I hope you also share with other the things you learned from me),” he added, urging his student to continue paying it forward. “Paminsan may mangyayari ring mga pagsubok as a basketball player. Sana huwag mong kakalimutan na si God ang makakatulong sayo (Sometimes there will be challenges as a basketball player. I hope you don’t forget that God will help you).”
 
Ildefonso then reiterated that he’ll always be there should his start student need him.“Kung may kailangan ka sa akin, magtext ka lang, anytime sasagot ako sayo at tutulungan kita kung anong kaya kong maitulong as kuya (If you need me, just text. I’ll answer and help you out anytime as your big brother),” Ildefonso continued.
 
“Masayang-masaya ako na gumaganda yung laro mo at sana itong All-Filipino, lalong gumanda yung career mo and makatulong ka sa team na maabot niyo yung hindi natin naabot last conference (I’m happy that your game is improving and hopefully it continues to get better in the Philippine Cup so you can achieve what we failed to do last conference),” he said. After their Game 7 loss to the San Mig Coffee Mixers, Ildefonso tried his best to cheer up Fajardo but the latter was inconsolable. But the veteran still believes that Fajardo can get it done.
 
“Kaya mo yan. Malaking tiwala ko sayo kasi iba ka. Pairalin mo palagi yung puso sa paglalaro at huwag kang magpa-apekto sa mga bagay na hindi makakatulong sayo (You can do it. I have trust in you because you’re different. Use your heart when you play and don’t allow yourself to be affected by things that will not help you).”
 
The two-time PBA MVP and eight-time champion closed his greeting by thanking Fajardo.
 
“Napakalaking pasalamat ko na naging teammate kita (I’m thankful that we were teammtes),” Ildefonso said. “Hindi man nagtagal pero ang laking pasalamat ko pa rin (It may have not lasted long, but I’m thankful nonetheless).”