THE entire PBA family is in a state of mourning following the death of former long-time Alaska deputy coach Aric Del Rosario, who passed away Thursday due to cardiac arrest.
He was 80.
"The PBA condoles with the entire family of the late former Alaska assistant mentor Aric Del Rosario, one of the friendliest and well-respected coaches during his time with the league. We will always remember him with fondness," said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial.
Del Rosario was part of Tim Cone's coaching staff when he took over the reign at Alaska in 1989, his first ever assistant coach, who was later joined by another champion mentor Chot Reyes.
While Reyes provided Cone the coaching hindsight, it was Del Rosario who offered added wisdom for Cone, then in his early 30s, behind his long experience as mentor of University of Santo Tomas.
The partnership would later produce the franchise's first ever championship after the Milkmen beat Ginebra San Miguel for the 1991 Third Conference title.
"It is crushing news to me, especially at this time when I cannot pay my respects to him and his family," said Cone of Del Rosario's passing away.
"He was such a steadying influence on me when I was a young coach."
Del Rosario would stay long enough to be with Cone when he steered Alaska to a grand slam in 1996, becoming just the third league franchise to achieve the rare feat after San Miguel Beer and the fabled Crispa Redmanizers.
Reyes was no longer with the team during that period, but still fondly remembered his association with Del Rosario during their early years with the Aces.
"RIP Coach Aric. We've gone thru many battles as deputies of Coach @manilacone," said Reyes in giving tribute to the affable mentor in his tweeter account. "A true lifer. The Philippine coaching community has lost a great one."
Indeed, the lost was not only of the PBA but the local coaching community as well.
While serving his stint with Alaska - and later with Talk 'N Text - the team still allowed Del Rosario to sit on the bench of UST, by which time, he transformed the school to a UAAP powerhouse when he guided the school to four straight men's basketball championship.
The first of those four titles came in 1993 when the Growling Tigers completed a 14-0 sweep of the season behind a team bannered by Dennis Espino, Patrick Fran, Rudolph Belmonte, Edmund Reyes, Chris Cantonjos, Bal David, and Estong Ballesteros, all of whom played in the PBA later.
Del Rosario's other coaching stints came with the Pampanga Dragons in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) where he led the team to the inaugural title.
In 2003, he was coach of the Philippine men's basketball team that won the basketball gold in the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games.
After a long hiatus from coaching, Del Rosario made a comeback as mentor of Perpetual Help Altas in the NCAA in 2012 and later, with Paranaque in the MPBL. (RG)