Christmas has come early for the fans of the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons as Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, and Ricci Rivero confirmed that they will be back in maroon for UAAP Season 83. 

The three UP mainstays announced their decision on Sunday as they collectively expressed confidence in UP’s steadily improving basketball program.

Akhuetie said that he, Paras, and Rivero were already inclined to stay with the Maroons after the team’s season ended last month.

“After our last game, we talked about it and Kobe and Ricci said if I’m game for another season, they would be game, too,” said Akhuetie, who was named MVP in his first season with UP in Season 81.

“So me, no question, I want to come back for another year and have another opportunity to win the championship for UP. Like they say, there’s nowhere to go but UP,” said the big man. 

Paras, who led the UAAP in scoring in Season 82, said that the UP community’s support for the team and team management’s efforts to improve the squad were among the factors that influenced their decision to play one more year. 

“So me, no question, I want to come back for another year and have another opportunity to win the championship for UP. Like they say, there’s nowhere to go but UP.”

“I said it before and I’ll say it again, every game felt like a home game because of the UP crowd. Didn’t matter where we played, they were there in full force and it was amazing,” said the young Paras, whose father Benjie is set to join the team as an assistant coach. 

According to the Mythical Five awardee, “it’s also clear to us that Coach Bo and management want to build a winning culture here in UP, and we want to continue to be a part of that.”

“It’s also clear to us that Coach Bo and management want to build a winning culture here in UP, and we want to continue to be a part of that.”

Swingman Rivero, on the other hand, said he would “always be grateful to UP for giving me a chance to continue playing in the UAAP.”

“We just want to do this for the community and for all those who believe in the team. So many people have gone all in to support the team and we feel the same way—we’re all in.”

The return of the three key players follows the additions of UP alumni Ronnie Magsanoc, Benjie Paras, Joey Guanio, and Xavier Nunag to UP’s coaching staff, which will feature the return of head coach Bo Perasol.

“We just want to do this for the community and for all those who believe in the team. So many people have gone all in to support the team and we feel the same way—we’re all in.”


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