Tim Cone leads tributes for legendary coach Aric del Rosario

Philippine basketball paid tribute to one of its most respected members, coach Januario "Aric" del Rosario, who passed away Wednesday evening due to cardiac arrest at age 80.

Del Rosario's coaching career spanned four decades and was highlighted by his four straight titles with the University of Santo Tomas from 1993-96. He also steered the Goldies to an immaculate 14-0 sweep, an automatic title at the time, in 1993.

His alma mater posted a tribute to one of its most distinguished alumni on its Facebook page. Del Rosario played for UST in the 1960s.

"Under Del Rosario's mentorship, the Growling Tigers had a clean 14-0 slate in the 1993 UAAP tournament, thus putting the men's basketball team on the map. Moreover, the Tigers secured a 4-peat championship thanks in large part to the multi-faceted tactician," said the University.

"Tatay Aric, as his colleagues would often call him, contributed immensely to the University's men's basketball program and many other endeavors. Paalam, Tatay Aric!"

Del Rosario first joined the-then UST Glowing Goldies in the 60s. Later on, he would suit up as the coach of the UST...

Posted by University of Santo Tomas onΒ Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Meanwhile, Patrick Fran, one of his trusty cagers with UST, posted a poignant tribute on Facebook, coupling it with photos from their championship runs.

"Dear Coach Aric, you were a great coach, not only because of your deep knowledge of the sport we all love, basketball, but also because of your passion for this sport. You have the ability to motivate and inspire...and it truly made a difference in your athletes' lives. Your gift was that you made us embrace challenge and stressed on the importance of determination, intensity and effort. You modeled what it meant to be energetically alive. For your players, you were like our dad, treating each like a son even it meant a good spanking on the butt when needed. Training and competing wasn't about glory or even victory, but about intensity of living purposefully and sharing in sacrifice with others.

"You inspired all of us to be better people. You were a great man, a great father, a great mentor, a great confidant, and a great coach. You will always be loved and missed.

"Thank you for everything, Tatay Aric, it was an honor to play for you. RIP," said the post.

Chris Cantonjos, who blossomed from being a role player in a stacked team to a two-time UAAP MVP under del Rosario's tutelage, thanked his mentor in a Facebook post.

"RIP Coach / Tatay Aric, Maraming Maraming salamat po sa lahat nang tulong at gabay nyo. Surely you will be terribly online missed but will never be forgotten," said Cantonjos.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who manned the Alaska sidelines for over 20 years, had del Rosario as his first-ever assistant. The two won the elusive Grand Slam back in the 1996 PBA season.

"I just heard of the passing of my former (he was my first) assistant coach, Aric Del Rosario. It is 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," Cone told ESPN5.com through an online message.

"He always kept me grounded and taught me so much about humility. The winning he accomplished at UST and the players he touched was unsurpassed. His humility and low-key personality prevented him from being in that conversation of the best coaches of the country--that was wrong; he was incredibly underrated and certainly should have been. He was truly a great coach and a better friend," he added.

Cone later tweeted that he was saddened he won't be able to pay his last respects to del Rosario, in apparent reference to the enhanced community quarantine in effect over Metro Manila.

Ariel Vanguardia, one of his partners on the bench at Talk 'N Text as an assistant, also tweeted his condolences.

"Rest in Peace Coach Aric del Rosario - one of the selfless person that I've ever worked with during my Talk'nText days... A mentor, father, and roommate! Will forever miss our late night conversation....Paalam Coachy!"

Noli Eala, former commissioner and play-by-play man of the PBA also paid tribute to the seasoned tactician.

"My sincerest condolences to the family of Coach Aric Del Rosario. He was one of the gentlest and most soft-spoken mentors I have ever known. RIP Coach. You will never be forgotten," said Eala.

The PBA also relayed its condolences to the long-time coach, who also led the Philippines to the Southeast Asian Games gold medal in 2003.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, loved ones and friends of legendary coach, Aric Del Rosario," the league said in a tweet. "Requiescat in pace."

Jimmy Alapag, whom del Rosario mentored during his formative years with TNT and is now the head coach of Alab Pilipinas, thanked the coach.

Jeff Cariaso, a former player of Cone and del Rosario with Alaska and now its coach, posted a simple picture of his teammates with him at their practice facility.