Ricci Rivero re-introduced himself to the La Salle community

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo courtesy of UAAP

Last Oct. 27, the UP Fighting Maroons secured the second seed (and twice-to-beat advantage) in the UAAP standings after kicking out the De La Salle Green Archers from the final four race. The player of the game was none other than Ricci Rivero who tallied a season-high of 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists. 

Although Rivero has made it clear that he has nothing but respect for the De La Salle basketball program, Sunday’s game was without a doubt a statement win for the former Green Archer. It was only in 2017 when Rivero wore the green and white jersey and helped lead the Archers to a finals appearance. To add to that, he was also part of the mythical five in season 76 and was close to becoming the next face of the Green Archers. 

But after a series of unfortunate disagreements with De La Salle, Rivero had to bid farewell to Taft Avenue. He then decided to start the next chapter of his rising basketball career in Diliman—for the UP Fighting Maroons—who at that time was struggling to even get a taste of what final four basketball was all about.

Fast forward to season 78, and the tables have turned. De La Salle is no longer a championship contender but rather a team that UP once was. The Fighting Maroons meanwhile are currently the second best team in the UAAP (based on 9-4 record) with the potential to make it to the finals. Thanks to Rivero’s presence, the Fighting Maroons have become a stronger defensive team and a threat on the offensive end.

“There were points in the game when we needed points and Ricci’s contribution wasn’t just on points but he was rebounding, he was defending, his mindset also of winning just rubbed off onto the team. His confidence, his presence of mind—you could see it in him. Sometimes he goes out of the play but you cannot question his intention. But at the end of the day, his contribution was huge. But it was a team effort that gave us the win,” says Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol. 

Although Rivero’s shot selection may be questionable at times, the former Green Archer has helped the Maroons become one of the best teams in the league to force turnovers. Rivero is someone you can count on to force and push a fast break and get those three-pointers to go. Sometimes, the Maroons can count on him to find his own shots on the paint but oftentimes he does his work best on the defensive end—and Rivero proved just that versus his former team.

“There were points in the game when we needed points and Ricci’s contribution wasn’t just on points but he was rebounding, he was defending, his mindset also of winning just rubbed off onto the team. His confidence, his presence of mind—you could see it in him.”

As for De La Salle, the only thing they can do is shake their heads after missing the final four for the second straight year. The green and white prides itself so much for its outstanding basketball program which clearly hasn’t been the same in the past two years. It’s going to be up to the De La Salle management to fix the broken puzzle once again but for now, it’s Rivero and the Fighting Maroons that deserve to be in the final four once again. 

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