Aldin Ayo and Aric Del Rosario’s connection extends far beyond University of Sto. Tomas.
As it turns out, Del Rosario was one of Ayo’s inspirations in basketball.
“Malaki ang impact sa akin ni Coach Aric lalo yung four-peat team niya,” Ayo said of the legendary coach who passed away a week ago. “Lumaki akong sila ang pinapanood ko nung nasa Sorsogon pa ako. Isa siya sa mga dahilan bakit ako nagpursiging makapunta sa Manila.”
When Coach Aric won four consecutive championships with the Growling Tigers, Aldin was still a teen in his hometown of Sorsogon.
Apparently, though, that black and gold dynasty was one of the seeds that ultimately took root inside of Ayo.
Not long after, he was in Colegio de San Juan de Letran and won his own title as a Knight in 1999.
Fast forward 16 years and Aldin was the head coach in Letran’s Cinderella championship.
Fast forward three more years and Ayo was calling the shots for the same school where Del Rosario once did.
And, of course, the one-time NCAA and one-time UAAP champion coach did not let a chance to meet the always amiable mentor fondly called “Tatay Aric.” As he put it, “Siya kaagad pinuntahan ko nung nalaman kong nandun mga alumni (sa UST). Matagal din kaming nag-usap at marami siyang binigay na advice.”
Coach Aldin went on to share how “Tatay Aric” told him to keep loving the game. “Unang-una, yung passion sa game. Dapat daw, mahal mo ang trabaho mo at ang ginagawa mo,” he recalled.
He then continued, “Kinwento niya gaano kahirap ang sitwasyon nila noon kasi wala masyadong budget at sarili niyang pera ang ginagastos. Pero laban pa rin.”
After that, Ayo said Del Rosario reminded him that there’s much more to coaching than just basketball. “Pangalawa, kailangan ko raw maging tatay sa mga players. Alam mo na ang responsibilities ng isang tatay at kailangan mong disiplinahin ang mga yan,” he said.
He then continued, “Mahalin mo ang mga yan at susuklian din nila ng pagmamahal ang pinakita mo sa kanila.”
From one champion coach to another, UST has got it good when it comes to its men’s basketball coaches.
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego
(Photos by Richard Esguerra, Arvin Lim)