JUST a year ago, he was no more than a back-up to Emmanuel Mbe.
Today Troy Rosario is the acknowledged heart and soul of the National University team which is on the cusp of a first UAAP men's basketball championship in six decades.
The transformation has been nothing short of phenomenal for the 6-7 Rosario, who, unknown to many, struggled with a slipped disc and knee injuries in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs.
Consequently, he averaged just 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds off the bench last season, when the Bulldogs crashed out of the Final Four as top seed following successive losses to University of Santo Tomas.
But back in full health and given the chance to shine following the departure of Bobby Ray Parks and Mbe, Rosario has not only embraced the lead role with Gelo Alolino but has spread his wings.
He is the second leading scorer for the Bulldogs this season with an 11.1-point average and is the team's leading rebounder with an 8.6 clip to win Most Improved Player honors.
“Alam ko na pinagtrabahuan ko ‘yun,” said Rosario when asked about the award.
Despite the marked improvement in his game, Rosario maintained he is still a work in progress, pointing to his decision-making on the court as the one aspect in his game that he can still still improve on.
“Marami pa. Siguro sa mga decision-making pa,” said Rosario.
He was also quick to thank his teammates, who he said kept faith in him while he battled through injuries early in his collegiate career.
“Personally, hindi ko makukuha ‘yun kung hindi dahil sa teammates ko. Nagtiwala sila sa akin,” said Rosario, who has become one of the top big men in the collegiate leagues today.
To top it off, the NU big man has a chance to cap a breakout season with a historic championship in the do-or-die Game Three against Far Eastern University on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"Ito na ang start ng finals namin,’ said Rosario after the Bulldogs' Game Two win.