UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help may have fallen short of a berth in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball Finals, but coach Aric del Rosario remains proud of what the Altas had achieved.
“Very, very satisfied ako,” said the 72-year-old mentor after the team's dream season was ended when the Altas were eliminated by reigning champion San Beda, 62-65, in Saturday’s Final Four at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Hindi ko nga akalain na madadala ko sila sa Final Four. Dati sabi ko ma-improve ko lang ang standings, madagdagan ko lang ang panalo nila, Masaya na ako.”
The semifinal stint was the first for the Altas in the last eight years.
Del Rosario, architect of University of Santo Tomas’ four straight championships in the UAAP in the mid-90s, said he can’t ask for more from the team in his first season as coach.
"Lahat naman ng team yun naman ang hinahabol (Final Four). Muntik pa nga (sa Finals). Ano pa hahanapin mo?" he said.
“Yung mga players ko, ngayon ko lang nakasama dinala na agad sa Final Four. Nagpasalamat nga ako sa kanila, sabi ko next time saka tayo magsasama ulit.”
The veteran coach gave credit to his team which he said had improved a lot since Day One of his reign, where he treated the team to meals of spaghetti after practice when he can afford it - and to snacks of bananaque when funds are short.
But he believes the Altas still lacked the endgame poise to get to the next level.
"Siguro kulang pa sa finishing touch. Sa mga crucial (plays) nagmamadali pa sila,” admitted Del Rosario.
“Malaki na ang inimprove ng team. Yung samahan, dati nag-aagawan sa points, ngayon eighty to ninety percent nagpapasahan na sila ng bola. Malaking bagay yun, yung hindi kanya-kanya, may teamwork na."
He said the Altas still have a lot of things to work on, but he's definitely looking forward to the team’s campaign next season. And he hopes spaghetti will always be on the menu after practice.
"Sana hawak ko na merienda next year," he said.