FORMER University of Santo Tomas coach Aric del Rosario has etched his mark in Philippine basketball with the players and even coaches that he has produced over the years, which is why there’s a great deal of sadness to those people upon learning of his passing.
“Hindi lang siya coach para sa amin kundi tatay na rin sa amin,” said St. Clare coach Jino Manansala, who played for Del Rosario at UST from 1999 to 2003.
Del Rosario, best remembered for leading UST to four straight UAAP titles in the 1990s, passed away on Thursday reportedly due to a heart attack. He was 80.
Manansala is just one of the coaches who are part of Del Rosario’s coaching tree. He is also one of the most successful, having transformed St. Clare into one of the most successful college programs outside the UAAP and the NCAA.
Manansala said Del Rosario is not only his coach for him but also a father figure as well as a godfather to his wedding last January 24. Del Rosario didn’t make it to the wedding but Manansala was able to visit him days before to formally tell him that he will be his ninong.
That turned out to be one of the final times he saw his coach.
Like most fathers, Del Rosario can also be strict and a disciplinarian on the basketball court. That style led to countless players making it to the PBA or being successful coaches like Manansala, who described being handled by Del Rosario as a dream come true.
“More like Bobby Knight style si coach Aric,” said the son of former PBA cager Jimmy Manansala. “Mostly, plays namin is triangle offense. Make sure na kapag binreak mo ‘yung opensa niya, makaka-shoot ka, kung hindi, makakarinig ka kay coach.”
“Marami ding nadala si coach sa pros kaya playing for him is a dream come true para sa akin. Hindi man ako nagtuloy sa pros pero sa coaching, nadala ‘yung mga turo niya sa amin,” said Manansala.
Even after his playing days, Manansala said the former UST coach always made it a point to impart his knowledge.
“Gawin ko lang ang tama at mahalaga ‘yung preparation sa ensayo,” said Manansala, when asked what he learned from Del Rosario that he is now using as a coach. “Para sa game, konting adjustment na lang ang gagawin.”
Manansala said he as well as his former teammates always kept in touch with Del Rosario even during his coaching stints with Perpetual Help and the Parañaque Patriots in the MPBL, that’s why his former players will definitely miss him so much.
“Sinubaybayan ko pa rin siya kahit saan siya mag-coach. Nagbi-visit ako sa mga games niya from Perpetual up to MPBL. Ninong siya sa kasal ko. Mamimiss namin si coach Aric,” said Manansala.
“Tinuring niya kaming para na rin niyang anak. Lagi niyang sinasabi sa amin na mahal na mahal niya kami,” said Manansala.