Aric Del Rosario of University of Perpetual Help addresses questions from the media during the NCAA Season 90 press conference at the SM MOA Arena. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – The Perpetual Help Altas will not be fielding in a foreign player in their campaign in the NCAA Season 90 basketball tournament, but head coach Aric del Rosario still expects his team to compete at a high level.
"Wala na akong import," del Rosario revealed during a press conference Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena. "Tapos nag-alis pa ako ng player, kasi sabi ng president namin, ayaw niya ng player na hindi naga-aral."
Even when he was coaching at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the 1990s, Del Rosario said he would always tell his players to prioritize their academics.
"Yung hindi naga-aral, inaalils ko. Kasi noong nasa UST, ganoon din ang ginagawa ko. Hindi naman pwede na puro laro eh," he said.
He later told reporters that he still believes his team can be a contender even without an import.
"Maski wala kaming import, palagay ko, kung talagang lalaro itong mga ito, may chance ako," he said.
The Altas relied heavily on Nigerian import Nosa Omorogbe last season, where they made the Final Four but lost to eventual champions San Beda.
Now that Omorogbe is no longer in the line-up, Del Rosario said he will rely heavily on veterans Scott Thompson and Juneric Baloria but also expects his rookies to prove their worth.
"Si Scott, 100% na. Tingnan mo 'yung nilaro nia sa Fr. Martin at sa Filoil. Si Baloria, okay na ngayon," he said. "Ang mga rookie ko, kung mag-laro parang beterano na rin."
"Yun lang talaga ang problema namin, wala kaming big man. Pero siguro, gagawa tayo ng paraan para manalo tayo," he added.
As for the top contenders, Del Rosario refused to name any team, insisting that all teams stand a chance.
"Nakita ko sa Filoil, lahat halos lumakas," he said.
The 90th season of the NCAA will open on June 28 at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Altas will kick off their season on Monday, June 30, at the San Juan Arena against the Mapua Cardinals.