Next generation ballers suiting up for Ateneo Blue Eaglets

Rick Olivares

Posted at Apr 25 2016 12:42 PM

At one point in their young lives, Danny Ildefonso (NU), Dennis Espino (UST), and Rodney Santos (San Sebastian) intersected in the 1990s playing in their respective leagues as well as the now defunct Philippine Amateur Basketball League. And of course, in the Philippine Basketball Association.

Now their sons are all on one team… the Ateneo Blue Eaglets.

Ildefonso is in his second year with the Eaglets, his team losing in last UAAP Juniors season’s Final Four to De La Salle Zobel. He returns to team up with Josh Espino and Migo Santos. Espino stands around 6’3” and will play the four and five alongside 6’6” Zack Salazar who was on the Eaglets’ Team B last season. Santos, at 5’10" will play the two guard. Ildefonso plays the two and three.

There’s also a third generation Ateneo player on the team — Gian Afable whose father Gene won a UAAP basketball title in 1988. An uncle of the father was former Blue Eagle hotshot Chito Afable who was a part of the 1969 NCAA Ateneo champion squad.

“Right now, we will not win based on pedigree,” said Ateneo Blue Eaglets head coach Joe Silva. “We will need to work hard for any success. And we hope that our veterans — Carlos Gatmaytan, SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, and Dave Ildefonso will lead this team.”

Other players named to the squad include Andrei Flores, Amchel Angeles, Rap Escalona, Rajah Gusi, Allen Tañedo, Cholo Deonio, Jeco and Gabe Laud, Andrei Davidas, and JM Berjay. Forward RV Berjay should return to the lineup by the Blue Eaglets’ third match as he has to attend to some academic requirements.

Of late, there have been a spate of next generation players. Most recently, they featured Aaron Black (son of Norman Black), Thirdy Ravena (son of Bong Ravena and younger brother of Kiefer), Matt and Mike Nieto (twin sons of former Ateneo Blue Eagle Jet Nieto), Shaun Ildefonso (older brother of Dave), and Jolo Mendoza (son of former UP Fighting Maroon Jiggs Mendoza).

If Kobe Paras didn’t transfer to La Salle Greenhills and subsequently the United States to pursue a NCAA Division 1 and NBA dream, he was supposed to have played on Ateneo's 2015 UAAP Juniors champion squad.