'Supportive UP community' seals deal for Ricci Rivero
MANILA, Philippines – After dealing with the toughest episode yet in his collegiate career, Ricci Rivero has decided to move on with the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.
The former La Salle standout said he decided to join the UP Maroons after consulting his family and friends, as well as Gilas teammates who “were raving about how supportive the UP community was of the UP Maroons.”
“They told me that UP Maroons fans were crazy about the team and were there for them, win or lose. I saw that, too, when I played against them," Rivero said in a statement. "Sobrang ingay ng mga taga UP; di mo alam kung lamang sila ng sampu o lamang ang kalaban nila ng sampu."
(The UP students and alumni were so loud you didn’t know if they were up by 10 or if their opponents were up by 10.)
Rivero was forced to leave the Green Archers following accusations of drug use, which the cager vehemently denied. But he admitted that the episode made him feel he “hit rock bottom.”
“I am thankful that the University of the Philippines has offered me a chance to continue chasing my dreams,” said Rivero.
UP Maroons coach Bo Perasol said the explosive guard "has the skill, work ethic, and character we look for in players who wear State U across their chests."
"We did our due diligence and took a long, hard look at Ricci, and it's clear to us that he will be an asset to the team and the university."
Rivero currently plays for the Gilas Pilipinas Cadets together with UP team captain Paul Desiderio, UAAP Season 80 Rookie of the Year and UAAP Juniors Season 79 MVP Juan Gomez De Liano, and new UP acquisition NCAA Season 80 Juniors MVP Will Gozum.
The 6-foot-1 cager admitted that he still wanted to play in the UAAP, where he honed his skills as a basketball player. He also said that while he will always cherish his time with La Salle, “it was time to move on and time to make a decision that will help me become the best basketball player that I can be.”
“Just like any student, I have dreams and goals and I am willing to work hard and do everything I can to achieve them,” he said
“If a school is willing to give me an opportunity to keep playing in the UAAP and grow as a basketball player and as a person, then I will gratefully accept it and do everything I can to help that school win a championship,” said Rivero.
During his rookie year, Rivero helped the Taft-based Archers win the UAAP Men’s Basketball championship in Season 79.
By his second season, Rivero averaged 13.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.6 steals on the way to copping the Most Improved Player Award as well as earning a spot in the Mythical Five after leading the Archers to their second straight finals.
Rivero is the latest high-profile player to join the Maroons.
Earlier this year, NCAA juniors MVP Will Gozum joined the team, while highly-touted forward Bright Akhutie committed to join the Maroons last year. Rivero will begin suiting up for the Maroons in 2019 after sitting out one year per UAAP rules.
Rivero quickly got a warm welcome from the UP community led by university president Danilo Concepcion and a contingent composed of alumni, students, and members of the UP Maroons.
Also present were longtime UP Maroons supporters Robina Gokongwei-Pe, Pato Gregorio, and Jonvic Remulla. Concepcion said the addition of Rivero “is consistent with the University’s pursuit of excellence in all fields of endeavor."
UP Diliman chancellor Michael Tan echoed the sentiments of Concepcion, and added that the addition of Rivero "helps the Maroons in their efforts to bring honor not just to UP, but the people we have pledged to serve."
NowheretogobutUP Foundation chairperson Agaton Uvero explained that while UP's other varsity teams have won UAAP gold, "the UAAP men's basketball crown has eluded us for over 30 years, and we believe this development brings us a step closer to ending this title drought." – Rappler.com
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