By Jonas Terrado
Legendary coach Aric del Rosario, best remembered for steering University of Santo Tomas to four straight UAAP championships from 1993 to 1996, died on Wednesday. He was 80.
His son Lester confirmed that the elder-Del Rosario passed away due to cardiac arrest but gave no additional details.
Del Rosario became a folk hero at the Espana campus after the Growling Tigers won the 1993 UAAP championship by virtue of sweeping the 14-game eliminations with a roster led by future PBA stars Dennis Espino and Rey Evangelista.
The victory was UST’s first title since it shared the 1968 crown with archrival University of the East.
UST capped off its historic run by defeating La Salle in the Finals over the next three seasons, with notable players Chris Cantonjos, Estong Ballesteros, Dale Singson, Gerald Francisco and Patrick Fran.
He also coached the Pampanga Dragons to the inaugural title of the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association in 1998 while still in charge of UST at the same time. Many recall the time Del Rosario rode a helicopter in order to coach both teams on the same day.
With Ato Agustin playing the starring role, the Dragons defeated the John Ferriols-led Negros Slashers in five games, clinching the title before a packed crowd at the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando.
Del Rosario served as one of Tim Cone’s assistant coaches during Alaska’s PBA title runs in the 1990s, highlighted by a historic Grand Slam in 1996 and mentored the Philippine team that took the gold in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
I’m broken up because of the loss of Coach Aric. I am so sorry I can’t pay my respects to him and his family. He was such an influence early in my coaching career, teaching me about humility and compassion. He touched so many lives through his journey. He will be terribly missed.
— Tim Cone (@manilacone) March 26, 2020
He spent his post-UST career serving as NCAA Commissioner while co-organizing the Father Martin Cup tournament along with former San Beda high school coach Ato Badolato before coaching University of Perpetual Help from 2012 to 2015.
The Altas reached the NCAA Final Four three times during Del Rosario’s tenure that also saw current PBA star Scottie Thompson win Most Valuable Player honors in 2014.
His last coaching stint came in 2018 when he handled the Paranaque Patriots in the first season of the MPBL.
Del Rosario was fondly known for shedding tears of joy whenever he felt that his teams were able to overcome the odds while his fatherly approach prompted those within the local basketball community to call him “Tatay Aric.”
Born Januario del Rosario on Jan. 3, 1940, he first gained prominence as a player by leading the Caloy Loyzaga-mentored UST to the 1964 UAAP title.
The Glowing Goldies went 7-1 during the eliminations before defeating the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the deciding third game of the finals.
Rare photo of Aric del Rosario playing for UST during the 1964 UAAP title run https://t.co/5S0ATCqtpy
— Jonas Terrado (@jonastsinelas) March 26, 2020
Del Rosario eventually turned to coaching, serving as an avenue for him to lead UST back on top in the mid-1990s.
Tags: Alaska Aces, Alaska Milkmen, Aric Del Rosario, Father Martin Cup, Metropolitan Basketball Association, MPBL, NCAA, Pampanga Dragons, Parañaque Patriots, PBA, Perpetual Help Altas, UAAP, University of Perpetual Help, University of Santo Tomas, UST Glowing Goldies, UST Growling Tigers