There was a point early in Rome Dela Rosa’s rookie season where the wing man out of San Beda was not being used, and it affected him physically.
“I had to put the work in. There was one instance in the first conference where I was not being used, and I felt I was getting heavier so I had to out the extra work with the trainers,” he said.
Dela Rosa, the 13th overall pick of the 2014 PBA Draft, seldom saw action in an Alaska roster that had an abundance of wing players like Tony Dela Cruz, Dondon Hontiveros, Cyrus Baguio, and even Calvin Abueva.
Dela Rosa averaged just 1.3 points in 5.7 minutes per game in the Philippine Cup, attempting just a single shot on the average. In the Commissioner’s Cup, Dela Rosa played only 5 games, for a total of 13 in the span of two conference.
With a slew of injuries to some Aces, however, the many-time collegiate champion with San Beda finally earned his big break, starting in all 9 games in the Governors’ Cup while seeing a big increase in his minutes (17.7/game).
The wing man also doubled his rebounding average to 2.5 RPG and almost tripled his scoring to 4.5 PPG, from less than 1.4 PPG in the first two conferences.
With such confidence, Dela Rosa was finally able to bring what was exactly expected of him, helping defensively, while also adding baskets when needed.
On Sunday, in Alaska’s series-clinching 82-77 win over the Star Hotshots, Dela Rosa took over, playing arguably the best game of his young career, as he scored 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting in 31:45 minutes of action.
He later shared that it was a result of staying dedicated to the game and being patient.
“I had to put the work in,” he said. “I know my time will come and I had to be ready. I did not see it coming. I just told myself to be ready at all times. When coach Alex (Compton) puts you in, just be ready to help the team.”
For Dela Rosa, it was another moment that typified the we-not-me brand of basketball the Aces are showing, and on that night he was on the spotlight.
“I just wanted to give it my all and this is the big stage. My coaches trust me to do my role. It’s not just me, it’s Alaska basketball.”
*Photo from PBA Images