Ricci Rivero relishes UAAP return: 'Babalik pa rin ako sa mahal ko'


MANILA, Philippines – It’s been a full year since anyone saw Ricci Rivero in UAAP competition, but it looks like he hasn’t lost a beat.

After lying low – if that’s even possible – with the UP Fighting Maroons, the highlight-heavy guard finally suited up for his official UAAP on-court return in the Season 81 3x3 tournament at the Ayala Malls Feliz on Saturday, March 2. 

And Rivero got right to work, scoring 9 points in UP’s 13-8 opening win against the NU Bulldogs.

As if he didn’t make it clear enough with that scoring salvo, he really missed doing his thing on the basketball court.

“I've been waiting for this the entire 2018,” he said. “I haven't been doing anything last year besides studying and working myself back.”

Siyempre, babalik pa rin ako sa sport na mahal ko talaga which is basketball,” he continued. "Sobrang saya ko to participate in the UAAP again. Siyempre, ang sarap to represent my school which is UP.”

(Of course, I will always come back to the sport I love which is basketball. I’m really happy to participate in the UAAP again. Of course, it feels nice to represent my school which is UP.)

As much as Rivero is a natural beast in 5-on-5 basketball, he is no stranger as well to its half-court variation, which is quickly becoming more popular in the country after its inclusion to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 

Happy ako kasi yung mga first part ng 3X, si Kuya [Prince] ang sumali. Noong bata ako, iniisip ko if makakalaro rin ba ako sa 3X,” he said. “Eventually I got to play sa U18 and the Challengers in China.”

(I’m happy because in the first parts of 3X, it was my brother Prince who joined. When I was a kid, I wondered if I would also play in 3X.)

“I’m happy that 3X is finally getting leverage in the UAAP,” he continued. “UAAP is different with regards to all sports. It’s a different feeling for all of us student-athletes if it’s UAAP. The atmosphere. It's really different to see a crowd cheer for you while doing the thing you love.”

Rivero also raved about his 3x3 teammates Will Gozum and the Gomez de Liaño brothers Javi and Juan. Gozum was a last-minute replacement to UP’s other high-profile recruit Kobe Paras, who backed out due to yet undisclosed reasons. 

Bago pa lang ako sa UP pero getting to play with them who are really known sa UP community, sila talaga yung true UP,” he said. “Kahit bago ako, silang tatlo may chemistry na. Isa yun sa wino-work on ko now, forming chemistry with each and every member of UP.” 

(I’m only new in UP but getting to play with them who are really known in the UP community, they are the true UP. I’m only new and those 3 already have chemistry. That’s one of the things I’m working on now, forming chemistry with each and every memeber of UP.) 

Rivero will have a chance to win it all for his new team as the 3x3 tournament continues on Sunday, March 3. UP is currently tied for 2nd place at 3-1 with Rivero’s old squad, the La Salle Green Archers. – Rappler.com