If there would be a conversation on the greatest assistant coach in the PBA, Januario "Aric" del Rosario would be there among those on top.
He's in the coaching staff in the Alaska Milk golden era while winning his own championships as head coach of the UST Growling Tigers in the UAAP. But he retired from coaching without graduating to head-coaching position in the Philippine Basketball Association.
The PBA circle mourned the passing of Del Rosario Thursday due to cardiac arrest. He was 80.
"All of us in the PBA would remember coach Aric as intense in the game pero napakabait sa labas ng court. I'd like to extend my deepest sympathy and condolence to his family," said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.
Of course, coach Tim Cone and the members of the Alaska team in the 90s would know Del Rosario the best.
"It is (Del Rosario's passing) just crushing news to me, especially at this time when I cannot pay my respects to him and his family. He was such a steadying influence on me when I was a young coach. He always kept me grounded and taught me so much about humility," said Cone.
"The winning he accomplished at UST and the players he touched was unsurpassed. His humility and low-key personality prevented him from being on that conversation of the best coaches of the country. But that was wrong; he was incredibly underrated and certainly should have been. He was truly a great coach and a better friend," Cone added.
The two-time grand slam coach best remembers Del Rosario on their winning the 1996 Alaska grand slam while Del Rosario was also winning UAAP championships with the UST Tigers.
PBA governor Alfrancis Chua also paid tribute to the man who recruited him to play for UST in the early 80s.
"Dalawa kami ni Gido Babilonia na dinala niya from Letran to UST. He's a passionate coach na napakabait na tao," said Chua.
"Parang tatay namin 'yan dahil parang anak niya kami ituring. Imagine, ginagastos niya ang sarili niyang pera para pakainin kaming mga players. Gumagastos din ng sariling pera yan para sa team-building sessions namin," added Chua.
Del Rosario had an iconic collegiate career at UST and produced future PBA stars in the likes of Dennis Espino, Rey Evangelista and Gerald Francisco.(SB)