Scottie Thompson hardly showed jitters in his rookie season in the PBA, immediately finding his niche in Tim Cone’s schemes with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
And a huge reason behind that is the late, great Aric Del Rosario, his head coach at University of Perpetual Help System DALTA.
“Pinrepare na ako ni Coach Aric kung anong mangyayari sa system namin kasi sinasabi niya about Triangle,” he told Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ The Prospects Pod, presented by SMART and supported by Chris Sports.
“Pagdating ko sa PBA, pagdating ko sa kanya, hindi ako masyado nag-adjust ng grabe kasi prepared na ako.”
Del Rosario knows Cone very well. After all, he was the American mentor’s first-ever assistant when the latter was beginning his career with Alaska in 1989.
Together, they would help the Milkmen win seven championships, highlighted by a historic Grand Slam achievement in 1996.
It was during his time in Alaska that Del Rosario created a UAAP dynasty by steering University of Santo Tomas to four straight titles from 1993-96.
He left the Wilfred Uytengsu-owned franchise in 1998, taking his act to the MBA, but he never forgot all he learned from Cone and Alaska.
And that came in handy eventually, when he handled the versatile Thompson during his time as Altas’ chief mentor from 2012-15.
The 2014 NCAA MVP even recalled how Del Rosario taught him some Triangle sets just to give him an idea of what’s in store for him under Cone.
That happened shortly after he got drafted by Ginebra as the fifth overall pick in the 2015 Rookie Draft, which was held while Season 91 was in play.
“May time pa nga na kahit ongoing pa ‘yung season tapos na-draft na ako noon, minsan tinatawag niya ako, nagda-draw siya sa board na ganito minsan ‘yung system ni Coach Tim, ‘yung triangle nga,” said the proud son of Davao del Sur.
“So ang laking tulong sa akin kasi ‘di ba, at least may idea ka na.”
And Thompson benefited plenty. He helped the Gin Kings end their eight-year title drought by conquering the 2016 Governors’ Cup.
With that, he was included in the 2016 All-Rookie Team. So far, he has won a total of four championships with the crowd darlings.
And of those titles, the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup might be the sweetest for him, as he was crowned the Finals MVP of that series versus San Miguel.
At season’s end, he was adjudged as the Most Improved Player, landing a spot in the Mythical Second Team as well.
With all that, “Tatay Aric” is surely smiling down from heaven.