After being forced to leave the De La Salle Universiy Green Archers and dealing with baseless rumors that cast doubts on his character and made him feel that he had “hit rock bottom,” former UAAP Most Improved Player and Mythical Five member Ricci Rivero believes “there is nowhere to go but UP;” so that is where the Gilas Cadet is going: the University of the Philippines.
In a statement released to the media, Rivero said that he decided to join the UP Maroons after consulting 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; sobrang ingay ng mga taga UP; di mo alam kung lamang sila ng sampu o lamang ang kalaban nila ng sampu. (UP students and alumni were so loud you didn’t know if they were up by ten or if their opponents were up by ten),” said Rivero.
Rivero currently plays with the Gilas Pilipinas Cadets together with three UP Maroons: UP Maroons 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.
In his statement, Rivero admitted that he still wanted to play in the UAAP, where he honed his skills as a basketball player. Rivero 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.”
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.
According to Rivero, “just like any student, I have dreams and goals and I am willing to work hard and do everything I can to achieve them,”
Just like any student, I have dreams and goals and I am willing to work hard and do everything I can to achieve them.
“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 the 6’1” Rivero.
“I am thankful that the University of the Philippines has offered me a chance to continue chasing my dreams, and I am honored to announce that I have accepted their invitation to join the UP Fighting Maroons.”
Rivero embraced by UP community
UP President Danilo Concepcion led a contingent composed of alumni, students, and members of the UP Maroons that formally welcomed Rivero to UP. 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 thirty years, and we believe this development brings us a step closer to ending this title drought.”
Ricci Rivero has the skill, work ethic, and character we look for in players who wear State U across their chests.
UP Maroons coach Bo Perasol also welcomed the decision of Rivero, and said the explosive guard “has the skill, work ethic, and character we look for in players who wear State U across their chests.”
It’s clear to us that Ricci Rivero will be an asset to the team and the university.
“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.”
In his rookie year, Rivero helped the Taft-based Archers win the UAAP Men’s Basketball championship in Season 79. In 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 being included in the Mythical Five after leading the Archers to their second straight finals, where they fell to the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
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.