Former UST coach Aric del Rosario passes away

Former University of Santo Tomas coach Aric del Rosario died on Wednesday evening, aged 80, due to cardiac arrest, a source told ESPN5.com, NPPA

Former University of Santo Tomas coach Januario "Aric" del Rosario, one of the most successful Philippine college basketball coaches ever, died on Wednesday evening due to cardiac arrest, a source told ESPN5.com

Del Rosario was 80 years old.

As of posting, no official statement had been released by the Del Rosario family.

Former players, coaches and friends of the legendary coach, though, have posted on social media to extend their condolences.

As a player, Del Rosario led the UST Glowing Goldies past Far Eastern University to the UAAP title in 1964. He took over as coach for UST - now known as the Growling Tigers - in 1991 and would later achieve legendary status in España by piloting the team to four straight titles from 1993 to 1996.

Several players from that historic four-peat went on to play in the PBA, including Rey Evangelista, Chris Cantonjos, Dennis Espino, Bal David, Edmund Reyes, Gerard Francisco, and Dale Singson.

The 1993 title, which also saw the first ever 14-0 sweep in the Final Four Era, was also UST's first since it was hailed co-champions with University of the East in the 1968 season.

Later on, Del Rosario coached the Pampanga Dragons to the first-ever title in the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association while continuing to call the shots for UST in 1998.

From the time the UAAP Final Four format was first implemented in 1993 until he stepped down in 2003, Del Rosario's UST teams missed the postseason just twice - in 2001 and 2003.

Del Rosario was also an assistant coach for Tim Cone during Alaska's Grand Slam in 1996 and piloted the men's national team to a gold medal in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam. He also served as assistant coach with the TNT franchise in the 2000s.

Cone took to Twitter to express his sadness over his former assistant's passing.

"I'm broken up because of the loss of Coach Aric," Cone tweeted. "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."

Del Rosario later served as NCAA commissioner but returned to coaching with the University of Perpetual Help, which reached the Final Four in three of four seasons under him from 2012 to 2015, and with the Parañaque Patriots in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League in 2018.

ESPN5's Philip Matel and Eros Villanueva contributed to this report.