THE local basketball community is mourning the passing of legendary University Athletic Association of the Philippines basketball coach Januario “Aric” del Rosario who suffered cardiac arrest on Wednesday. He was 80 years old.

A native of Candaba, Pampanga, Mr. Del Rosario was a winner at every level of basketball he coached in.

He steered the University of Santo Tomas men’s basketball team to four straight UAAP titles from 1993 to 1996. His 1993 team, which boasted of the likes of eventual pros Dennis Espino, Rey Evangelista and Patrick Fran, swept the competition on its way to being crowned as automatic champion.

While at it, he was also a valuable part of the Alaska franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association, serving as one of the assistants of Tim Cone during their memorable run in the 1990s, including winning a grand slam in 1996.

In 1998, Mr. Del Rosario coached the Pampanga Dragons to the inaugural Metropolitan Basketball Association title.

Mr. Del Rosario, himself a former UST star player, served as coach of the national team that won gold in the Southeast Asian Games in 2003.

He went back to coaching in college late in his career, taking the reins at the University of Perpetual Help in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and leading the team to three Final Four appearances (2012-14) in the four years he was there.

Mr. Del Rosario was also part of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) with the Paranaque Patriots.

When news of his death broke out, former colleagues and players of his gave their tributes, underscoring his brilliant basketball mind and the good person he was.

They lament not being able to pay their respects to Mr. Del Rosario because of the ongoing lockdown in Luzon because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) but offered their prayers to the late coach and his grieving family.

Mr. Del Rosario is survived by his five children and nine grandchildren. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo