Another sub delivers for the Aces, this time it’s De La Rosa
Alaska rookie Rome dela Rosa spent the first two conferences mostly on the bench. But not a moment during those tough times did he lose confidence in himself and faith in his team and coaches.
Dela Rosa knew his time will come. He just didn’t expect it to be one Sunday evening in a close out game of the semifinals against the defending champion Star.
“I didn’t see it coming,” said the former San Beda Red Lions skipper, who got overlooked in the draft and landed on the lap of the Aces in the second round. “I just told myself to be ready at all times.”
The 24-year-old forward admitted he felt the pressure of playing in the playoffs against one of the league’s storied franchises but his performance showed otherwise.
“I just approach every game just the way I do. I just wanna give my all. This is the big stage so I just want to be able to step up and my coaches trust me to do my role,” he told reporters.
Dela Rosa earned every minute of the most playing time he’s had with a career-high 11 points that went with two steals in 31 minutes and 45 seconds of action.
“What Rome dela Rosa did today, obviously he scored but he does so many other good things besides scoring,” Alaska skipper Tony dela Cruz told INQUIRER.net.
“He’s very skilled but he has a good attitude, a hard worker and he’s very humble so I think that he’s going to have a long career in the PBA,” dela Cruz said of dela Rosa. “He’s definitely very skilled already but he still has a very long way to go and he knows it and he’s excited to keep going.”
Dela Rosa was the third different player to step up for Alaska after fellow rookie Chris Banchero in Game 1 and Noy Baclao in Game 2 last Friday.
“The guys have really embraced the fact that we’re committed to their growth as players, as individuals and as a team. I have actually told Noy Baclao before, ‘look at Rome. Rome didn’t play for two conferences and he’s starting now,'” said Aces head coach Alex Compton. “It doesn’t mean that if I don’t use you in the game you don’t have any value, you have. Just keep working.”
“All these guys are invaluable. Tony dela Cruz completely changed the Meralco game and he didn’t play the last game. Hopefully he’ll completely change a game again. You go through each guy, Ping, RJ and guys off the bench and that’s really what we’re shooting for,” Compton added.
Dela Cruz believes Alaska’s unpredictability with how different players have been able to come through in different games is what makes Alaska a formidable team.
“I think that’s what makes us hard to play. Like someone’s going to give you a contribution in some other way not necessarily just scoring. The other day it was Noy Baclao, obviously his scoring but again he plays defense and he’s a team player so we celebrate the team at Alaska.”
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