CYRUS Baguio knows that he wouldn't be in the PBA if not for coach Aric del Rosario.
The 39-year-old guard said that he owes his professional basketball career to the legendary University of Santo Tomas coach who took a chance on him despite being a walk-in.
"Siya yung isa sa mga dahilan bakit ako naging PBA player. Malaki ang utang na loob ko sa kanya sa naging career ko sa basketball and proud din ako na isa ako sa mga naging successful players niya sa UST," he said.
Baguio was grateful for everything del Rosario did as he was just a gangly kid from Iligan trying to make a name for himself in Manila.
It wasn't long before everybody took notice of the young slasher, who was then given the moniker of "Skyrus" for his flashy plays and aerial flair despite standing at just 6-foot-2.
"Si coach Aric yung naging pangalawang tatay ko simula noong napunta ako dito sa Manila," he said, while also emerging as a go-to guy for the Growling Tigers in the early 2000s.
Trust was big between Baguio and Del Rosario, so much so that the NLEX veteran willingly took the tongue-lashing he's been handed by the decorated mentor whenever he commits a mistake.
"May similarities sila ni coach Yeng (Guiao) na parang tatay. May maririnig ka sa kanila sa tuwing may kapalpakan ka na ginawa kasi gusto nila na gumaling ka at matutunan mo ang mga mali mo. Parang pamilya talaga si coach Aric," he shared.
Baguio even recounted one UAAP game where he was placed in the spotlight by his mentor.
"Hindi ko makalimutan yung laban namin against FEU. Lamang kami ng one point at seconds na lang yung natitirang oras, nag-turnover ako at naka-score ang kalaban. Nag-time out si coach Aric, dapat may gagawin siya na play para sa amin, pero sa sobrang inis niya sa akin, minura niya ako at sabi niya, 'Ibigay niyo kay Cyrus ang bola!' Sabay tingin niya sa akin at sabi niya, 'Bahala ka na sa buhay mo!'," he recounted.
"Buti hindi ko siya binigo at naipasok ko ang last shot at panalo pa rin kami."
Pressure-packed moments like these, which del Rosario willingly put Baguio on, helped the latter strengthen his resolve and led him to the 17-year PBA career that he's had, winning three PBA championships and a Finals MVP back in the 2010 Fiesta Conference.
And all of those, Baguio said, is all thanks to del Rosario.
"Napakarami ko na natutunan sa kanya at hindi mo mabibilang sa daliri," he said. "Kaya nagpapasalamat ako na naging coach ko si coach Aric."