TWO Cebuano basketball stars expressed their sadness upon hearing of the passing of legendary head coach Aric del Rosario on Thursday, March 26, 2020, at the age of 80.
Reigning Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) MVP Shaquille Imperial, who previously starred for the University of Perpetual Help’s high school basketball team, said del Rosario had a profound impact on him in the short span of time that they worked together.
Del Rosario passed away due to a massive heart attack on Thursday morning. He was the architect of the University of Santo Tomas squad that won four straight UAAP titles in the ‘90s. He also went on to lead the Pampanga Dragons to the very first title in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA). He also coached the University of Santo Tomas Altas in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Parañaque Patriots in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
In an exclusive interview with SunStar Cebu, Imperial said while he was in fourth year high school, del Rosario approached him to talk about already practicing with the college squad. Once he began doing that, he experienced just how much of a father figure del Rosario was to every single member of the team.
“What I remember about coach Aric, he was very close to the players. After practice, he would often ask us regarding our problems with academics or with the dorm,” Imperial said in Cebuano.
Imperial added the affable head coach treated every single player — from the team’s top star to the last guy on the bench — the same way.
“He treated everyone the same, regardless of where you came from. If you were his player, he’d really show he cared for you, not only as a player but also as a student,” Imperial said.
What stood out the most for Imperial was how del Rosario encouraged him to play every game as if it was his very last one.
“One unforgettable moment was a game in the Fr. Martins Cup. He constantly told me to take the game seriously and to listen to him; he also reminded me to be good and to pray always,” said the pride of Lapu-Lapu City.
Most of all, Imperial said del Rosario did his best to help young people get a free ride through college through the game of basketball.
“Coach Aric would really allow tryouts to give a chance to players to gain free scholarships. He’d really go out of his way to help players,” he said.
Another Cebuano who spoke glowingly of the time he spent with del Rosario was the “Cebuano Sniper” Patrick Jan Cabahug, who played under his tutelage under the Toyota Balintawak Roadkings in the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL).
“He was like a father to me. He was to all of us. That’s why we called him Tatay Aric. It saddens me that I can’t visit his wake due to the current situation. In my heart, I will forever honor him and treasure all the memories we had,” said Cabahug, who is preparing to play for Valenzuela City in the MPBL. “What I remember the most about Tatay Aric as a coach was you really had to follow his system. If not, you would get a long rant. The most unforgettable lesson I learned from him is ‘take the shot whenever you’re open; you don’t need to dribble a lot.’ Until know I’ve been carrying that line in my entire career. I owe him that.”