By Jerome Lagunzad
7 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
8 p.m. – Parañaque vs Caloocan
Multi-titled tactician Aric Del Rosario is keeping the same winning mentality as he brings his act to the inaugural season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League that kicks off tomorrow at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The architect behind University of Santo Tomas’ four-year reign in the UAAP back in the 90s, Del Rosario, 78, has put his retirement plans on the back burner for the nth time after being tasked to call the shots for the Parañaque Patriots.
“Sa totoo lang, gusto ko na nga mag-retiro talaga. Kaso ang hirap tumanggi ‘pag marami pa ang gusto kunin ang serbisyo at tulong mo,” said the amiable tactician who also led the Pampanga Dragons to the Promised Land in the inaugural season of the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association in 1998.
This time, Del Rosario is excited – and wary – at the same time as tries to instill his proven system on a Patriots side bannered by his former Perpetual Help players like Harold Arboleda, Jong Baloria, Jett Vidal and Gab Dagangon.
“Medyo kabado ako kasi maiksi lang ang preparation namin. After ng pre-season, nag-resume kami ng ensayo one week pa lang. Tapos sasabak agad kami,” he said, referring to their opening day showdown against the Caloocan Supremos tomorrow.
“Buti na lang, ‘yung mag kinuha naming players, gamay ko na. Alam na nila ‘yung gusto ko at alam ko na rin ‘yung gusto nila. At least hindi na ako masyadong mahihirapan. Kaso ang problema ko, naghahanap pa ako ng big man sa ngayon.”
Former Kia mentor Chris Gavina is also back in the coaching scene with the Valenzuela Classic while former Barangay Ginebra stalwart Banjo Calpito will call the shots for Muntinlupa Cagers.
“The enthusiasm of the Valenzuela players in wanting to improve every day and embrace the grind of building the habits of a championship team is what excites me,” said Gavina. “The team’s effort and commitment to the championship standards has reinvigorated my coaching spirit.”