Former college rivals Rome dela Rosa, Kevin Racal become teammates at Alaska
Kevin Racal watches Alaska's game from ringside with agent Danny Espiritu. Jerome Ascano

ROME dela Rosa is welcoming Kevin Racal with open arms to Alaska where the former rivals are set to become teammates.

The sophomore wingman out of San Beda recalled his numerous battles against the Letran star in the NCAA, but insisted it was all in the past.

“Racal and I would go head to head, bang bodies,” Dela Rosa said on Friday after the Aces’ 87-79 win over Blackwater.  “It’s like going against Calvin.”

The former Red Lions defensive lynchpin was referring to teammate Calvin Abueva, who was also a former rival from San Sebastian.

Dela Rosa likened the entry of Racal, who signed a two-year rookie deal on Friday, to his own arrival last year when Abueva also welcomed him with open arms.

I don’t hold any grudges, man,” Dela Rosa said. “Calvin welcomed me on the team wholeheartedly, so that’s the same way I’m going to do it for Racal.”

“He’s a great addition,” he added of Racal, one of the heroes of the Knights team that ended a decade-long title drought in the NCAA on Thursday at the expense of San Beda. “His confidence is high right now.”

Still, Dela Rosa admitted he felt for his college team after its five-year reign came to an end, evoking memories of the Lions’ finals loss to Abeuva and San Sebastian in 2009.

“It was classic game. Unfortunately, San Beda had to lose,” he said. “It’s tough. It just brought a lot of memories for me nung 2009 when we lost to Baste and I know it’s really hard for the players.

“I hope they use it as motivation heading into next year.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos