ANYONE who was at Aric del Rosario’s post-game press conference on Thursday night saw how happy the well-loved coach was after he had worked his old magic in the NCAA, steering University of Perpetual Help to its first semifinal appearance in eight years with a 73-68 playoff win over Jose Rizal University.
But there was also a part of this 72-year-old coach that didn’t feel like celebrating.
The mixed emotions was understandable. Moments before the Altas took to the court, the veteran coach who led University of Santo Tomas to four successive titles in the nineties had seen his old team get beaten by the Ateneo Eagles in the best-of-three Finals series over at the UAAP.
“Sayang,” del Rosario muttered when asked about his thoughts on the UST game. “Nandun na sila eh.”
Del Rosario, who has come out of retirement this season to help revive the long-dormant Altas program, said this year’s UST squad just didn’t have enough luck in both Finals games. Their turnovers down the stretch in Game Two also did them in, he added.
“Breaks lang rin ng game,” he said.
But Del Rosario said the Tigers can definitely bounce back next season as they have an almost intact lineup, with Jeric Fortuna and Melo Afuang the only graduating players.
“Meron pa namang next time.”
But for the Tigers to go all the way next season, del Rosario said the team needs not only talent but luck. Everything has to come together at the right time just like it did during UST's magical ride under him in the nineties, he said.
“Kung hindi para sa iyo, hindi sa iyo. Pero pag dumating sa iyo, minsan tuloy-tuloy eh,” Del Rosario said.