DECADES later, Aric Del Rosario still can’t help but feel emotional after a win over La Salle.
The man who caused De La Salle several heartbreaks in the nineties came back to haunt the Taft-based school after the Perpetual Help Altas defeated the Green Archers on Saturday in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.
Del Rosario was the same coach who steered University of Santo Tomas to four straight UAAP championships from 1994 to 1996, all of which came at the expense of De La Salle's Green Archers.
But since Del Rosario returned to coaching at Perpetual Help in the NCAA in the 2012 season, the legendary ‘Aric Magic’ has not worked for the Altas in their games against De La Salle in the offseason.
That changed on Saturday when the Altas finally defeated the Green Archers, 98-95, in their final game of the eliminations of the preseason tournament.
The win, of course, wasn’t as special as those UST title victories over the Green Archers in the nineties. In fact, the Altas were even eliminated from the quarterfinal picture since they failed to meet the needed winning margin to win the tiebreaker.
But the win still left Del Rosario in tears as he faced the media after the victory.
“Kasi since nung ma-group kami sa La Salle, wala akong naririnig na nagsasabi na may chance kaming manalo,” Del Rosario said, mumbling his words, “lahat ng mga tao.”
When he finally was able to regain his composure, Del Rosario said he motivated his players to believe that they can win against the reigning UAAP champions.
“Lahat ng tao, walang nag-favor na may chance kami sa La Salle. Sabi ko sa kanila, kaya natin sila talunin. Kahit tinambakan kami sa una, sabi ko habulin natin unti-unti,” said Del Rosario.
Juneric Baloria had a game to remember for the Altas by scoring 43 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range. He led a Perpetual comeback from a 24-44 deficit while scoring 22 of the Altas’ 41 points in the fourth.
Earl Thompson said the Altas win over La Salle was a huge boost to the team’s confidence.
“Gusto po sana naming maglaro sa quarterfinals pero napatunayan namin na kaya naming talunin ang La Salle. Nag-pursige kami at pinakita namin sa tao na kaya namin,” said Thompson, who finished with a near-triple-double of 14 points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists.
“’Yun ‘yung lumaglag sa amin sa PCCL dalawang beses,” said teammate Harold Arboleda as he recalled Perpetual Help’s losses against La Salle in the Del Rosario era. “Pero nakabawi kami.”
Despite their exit in the Filoil, Del Rosario said the La Salle win will help them in their NCAA campaign.
“Siguro medyo may matatakot na sa amin dahil nanalo kami sa UAAP champion at maganda ‘yung pinapakita namin,” said Del Rosario.