ARIC Del Rosario, one of the most successful and well-loved coaches in Philippine basketball, died on Wednesday night due to cardiac arrest.
Fellow coach Ato Badolato confirmed the sad news of Del Rosario’s death that came as the country is battling the crippling effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He turned 80 last January 5.
Del Rosario, according to friends of the family, was brought to the hospital due to coughs and difficulty of breathing and was reportedly tested for COVID-19, although result of the test has yet to be known.
His son Lester, who once played for University of Santo Tomas under him and became a coach himself, later confirmed his father's death amid the outpouring of prayers and condolences on social media from players, coaches, and friends of the well-liked former UST mentor fondly called 'Tatay Aric.'
"The Philippine coaching community has lost a great one," said former national coach Chot Reyes, among the first to honor his former fellow assistant at Alaska on Twitter.
Del Rosario, a native of Candaba, Pampanga who spent his late years in a farm in Mexico town, was a star player for UST in the 60s where he won a UAAP title in 1964, but made a name for himself as coach of the Growling Tigers side that won four straight UAAP men’s basketball championships from 1993-96.
His 1993 unit led by Dennis Espino saw the school complete a 14-game sweep of the season to end the team’s 29-year title drought.
While with UST, he also served as one of the long-time deputies of coach Tim Cone of Alaska and was part of the team that won the PBA grand slam in 1996.
He likewise piloted the Pampanga Dragons to the inaugural Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) title in 1998 and later, served as coach of the men’s national team that bagged the gold medal in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
His last coaching stints were with University of Perpetual Help alongside son Lester in the NCAA and Paranaque in the MPBL.