Apr 11, 2018

Rome dela Rosa: From bit player to reliable defender

Rome dela Rosa is grateful for the chance to finally shine in his fourth PBA season after playing a key role in the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok's entry to the Philippine Cup Finals.

Despite the Hotshots' loss to the San Miguel Beermen in the recent title series, Dela Rosa was able to produce his best conference yet with averages of 9.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 23 games.

"Grabe yung tiwala ng teammates ko and of course ng coaching staff," Dela Rosa said.

"Before this conference, they're actually pushing me like 'Rome, keep working on your shot, be aggressive.' Gusto ko lang suklian."

Becoming a vital part of Hotshots coach Chito Victolero's rotation is something Dela Rosa had aspired since chosen in the second round of the 2014 PBA draft by the Alaska Aces.

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Dela Rosa was a bit player for two seasons when the Aces reached the finals four times before being shipped to the Hotshots in 2016 for fellow San Beda alumnus Jake Pascual.

It took him a year before finding his niche with Magnolia as one of Victolero's main defensive weapons while also seeing his offensive production improved.

That was evident during the finals when Dela Rosa posted 11.6 points, including a career-high 19 points in Game 5. The Hotshots, however, lost in double overtime, 108-99, to allow Beermen to clinch their fourth straight Philippine Cup crown.

The 27-year-old swingman is expected to ride on the momentum gained from the Philippine Cup into the Commissioner's Cup which opens on April 22.

Magnolia won't make its debut in the second conference until May.

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