FROM FASTBALLS TO FASTBREAK: ROME DELA ROSA’S FIELD OF DREAMS IS THE PBA HARDCOURT
Sometimes, a person choses another path wholly different from his parents only to find himself veering off course to align with what seems like fate.
Rome de la Rosa grew up in San Diego, California where he rooted for the hometown Padres. He played the hot spot of third base and at times catcher. And like every young kid who took up the sport, he had dreams of greatness on the baseball diamond.
“Baseball was my first sport,” recalled Rome. “I loved it as only a kid can. I played it from sun up to sundown. But eventually it took a toll on me especially when I played catcher. It hurt my knees and the 90-mile-an-hour pitches and plate collisions left bruises and welts all over me.”
But life threw him a curveball.
He knew that his father Romy was a basketball star in Manila who famously played for the Shell Turbochargers alongside Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, and Arnie Tuadles. The elder De La Rosa later suited up for Sta. Lucia and Negros in the now defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association.
Eventually, Rome traded the fastball for the fastbreak as he took up the sport of his father and uncle (Reuben de la Rosa). Like them, he was a fearless slasher (no pun intended if you get this) who later developed a reliable perimeter shot. He also became a top-notch defender; a left over from his baseball days.
“Having played third base and catcher, you look at all the angles of where the batter might want to hit a ball. You work on your anticipation and try to make good reads,” explained De La Rosa. “So in basketball, that helped me with my anticipation for steals and even blocked shots.”
And so the six-foot-four stalwart showcased his wares with the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA and the NLEX Road Warriors in the D-League, where he was a part of many a championship squad.
Now after five years in the amateurs, Rome is ready to follow in his father’s and uncle’s footsteps – the Philippine Basketball Association.
“I’m nervous,” he admitted just days before the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine where the rookie hopefuls will get to showcase their wares to the coaches of the 12 pro squads. “I talked to my dad about it and he told me to relax and simply concentrate on doing my best.”
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