Near 2,400 kilometers Gerard Francisco heard the heartbreaking news.
"For me he was like a second father," said the former Sta. Lucia, a star in the PBA and a member of two master teams from the University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP, told the investigator over the phone after learning that coach Aric del Rosario passed away shortly after midnight on Thursday. "I learned a lot from the man, not just about playing the game but also about life."
According to Francisco, Del Rosario died of a massive heart attack, which called Lester, the coach's eldest son, who was a teammate of Gerard during the Santo Tomas dynasty in the mid-1990s.
"He was in a very funny mood in the morning," quoted Francisco Lester. "He even cooked for the family in the morning when the attack [heart] took place. It was only once and it has passed peacefully. "
Francisco will forever be associated with the UST Growling Tigers and Del Rosario, the man who carefully built this team from scratch to win four consecutive titles from 1993 onwards. This year the league awarded the league to the team that sweeps the championship.
Gerard was already a permanent resident in Singapore, where his wife Krista is at the forefront of the COVID-19 battle. During his time with Aric, Gerard had many stories to tell.
"Always go to bed early because playing the next day without the necessary rest is bad for your knees," Francisco said in Filipino, remembering one of Del Rosario's advice that he always followed.
"His passion for the game and his eye for talent are what I remember most during my time at Trainer Aric," said Patrick Fran, a member of the sweep team. "I have never seen anyone as talented as coach Aric." "Imagine we had a player, Norman Loyao, who was a full-time seminarian," said Fran. "This is the eye the coach had – he hired a seminarian, and I don't know of a UAAP school that had this type of player. And he (Loyao) was good – you can ask Johnny A (Abarrientos) because Loyao has caused him all sorts of problems. "
Del Rosario, a scoring star for the then glowing Goldies in the 1960s, turned 80 on January 2. Aside from his heroic deeds with his alma mater, he was Alaska's most glorious in Tim Cone's assistant The PBA counted the 1996 Grand Slam. He was also the first coach to win a 1998 title with the Pampanga Dragons in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association won.
But more than his contributions to the game he loved, Francisco and Fran knew exactly what coach Aric was for them.
"In any case, it's like losing a father," Fran concluded.
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