It runs in the blood.
The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) officially opened last September. So far in men’s basketball, there were noteworthy performances. For one, the Adamson Falcons toppled the defending champions Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles. Adamson’s Papi Sarr (I always think of him as someone who would shove off after failing to box out) grabbed an offensive rebound and gave his team the go-ahead basket in the dying seconds.
In another game, the National University (NU) Bulldogs staved off a rally by the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers. In that game, a pair of brothers showed a lot of promise: Shaun and Dave Ildefonso. Sure, we’ve seen some examples of collegiate players whose fathers were also basketball players—the Ravenas, the Tengs, the Abudas—the list goes on. What is not common is when those sons choose to play for their father’s alma mater.
Shaun and Dave Ildefonso are, of course, the children of Danny, who spent much of his career in the pros with the San Miguel Beermen. Things are looking good for NU when we see Dave taking it strong to the hoop and Shaun attempting a three-point shot with his team holding a precarious lead in the dying minutes. With Gilas cadet Troy Rike, this is what a future Final Four team looks like, and maybe the future will happen sooner than later.
For their part, the Nieto twins—Matt and Mike—are already battle-tested. They showed their composure in last season’s Game Three of the finals. Matt almost singlehandedly brought Ateneo to a victory in their opening game. The twins are the offspring of Joseph “Jett” Nieto, a member of ADMU’s ’87 and ’88 teams. Like his sons, Jett contributed significantly to his team. He also had the honor of playing for Danny Francisco, whom we cheered for in high school when we watched him playing for the RP Youth Team. This before a heart ailment made him retire at a young age.
Finally, as former Boston Celtics Red Auerbach was once quoted in Larry Bird’s autobiography Drive: “Do you know how short a time a year is?” Kobe Paras will don the uniform of a UP Fighting Maroon next year, that’s 33 long years after his father Benjie gave the State University its taste of how sweet a championship is. Sons and fathers who came from the same teams, and young players who may yet bring glory to their fathers’ alma maters: It happens here in the UAAP.
Featured image from Benjie Paras‘ Instagram account.