ARIC del Rosario has produced a long line of college star players who have gone on to have successful careers in the pros when he was still calling the shots for University of Santo Tomas.
Now that he’s with Perpetual Help, the multi-titled mentor is eyeing to come up with more.
One such player is Earl Thompson, the athletic sophomore swingman from Digos in Davao who’s expected to be among the major contributors when the Altas take on Mapua in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on Monday.
The 19-year-old Thompson easily reminds people of Alaska star guard Cyrus Baguio, whom Del Rosario once coached with the Tigers.
Although Thompson has shown flashes of moves that have been the trademark of the player they called “Skyrus,” Del Rosario said comparisons are premature.
“Siguro sa last two years niya, magagawa ko siyang Baguio,” said the well-loved coach.
Thompson showed a glimpse of his potential last Thursday when he registered 14 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block in the Altas’ 89-58 demolition of Arellano.
And he’s expected to produce the same type of numbers as the Altas seek their 10th win in 15 games and solidify their hold of third spot in their 4 p.m. meeting with the Cardinals.
The Altas defeated the Cardinals, 94-88, in their first-round meeting last July 26 in a game where Thompson finished with a brilliant, all-around performance of 22 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, and one block.
Not to be outdone, the Cardinals also boast of a stellar second-year guard in Josan Nimes, last year’s top rookie, who’s expected to lead the Intramuros-based team that’s trying to keep its faint Final Four hopes alive.
Nimes delivered in the Cardinals’ last game against San Sebastian as he tallied 17 points, nine boards, six assists, and two blocks, but it was not enough to beat the favored Stags as Mapua lost it, 62-77.
A loss for the Cardinals, currently tied with Emilio Aguinaldo College and Arellano at sixth place with a 5-9 record, is not an option as it would ultimately ruin their Final Four bid.
In the second game, a skidding Jose Rizal University tries to grab a piece of fourth place as it collides with also-ran College of St. Benilde.
The Bombers, who shared the top spot by the end of the first round, are now in fifth spot with an 8-6 mark after losing three straight games, the last coming at the hands of cellar-dweller and undermanned Lyceum, 62-69, lastThursday.
The Blazers are also coming off a loss, an 83-97 decision against Letran last Monday.