MANILA, Philippines – Ricci Rivero has been, safe to say, underwhelming offensively for the loaded UP Fighting Maroons.
After a whole year of hype following his controversial transfer from the La Salle Green Archers, the collegiate sensation from Taft struggled all throughout his first go-around in Katipunan.
After averaging 14.1 points on a 48% shooting in his final year with La Salle, Rivero’s numbers plummeted to just 7.3 markers on a 29% clip through 13 games with UP.
Still, the Maroons managed to rise back to the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball Final Four with a twice-to-beat advantage in hand. And that’s enough reason for Rivero not to sweat on his struggles on the offensive side.
“I'm just really thinking of what I can contribute to the team, especially on defense,” he said after clinching his third collegiate playoff appearance. “On the defensive end, that’s where we really get lapses.”
“This season, I don't really think much about offense,” said Rivero. “If it’s there, it’s there but if it’s not, that’s fine too. Everyone in the team is capable of making their shots especially Bright (Akhuetie), Kobe (Paras), Jun (Manzo), Javi (Gomez de Liaño), and Juan (Gomez de Liaño). What we need is defense and that's what I'm doing.”
True enough, Rivero’s listed teammates carried practically the entire bulk of the scoring, with Paras currently leading the league off a 17.8 points per game average.
Akhuetie is no slouch, either, with norms of 14.5 markers plus 12.1 rebounds to boot.
As offensive responsibilities are not even required from him anymore, Rivero is now just focused on being a vocal leader as the Maroons push on with their bid back to the finals.
But first, they need to clear one last hurdle in the elimination round: no less than the two-time defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles on Wednesday, October 30. (LIVE UPDATES: Ateneo vs UP - UAAP Season 82 round 2)
“Like what I've been telling them, it doesn't end here,” he said. “Our mentality is the next game, the next dribble, the next pass. That's what we have to think about heading into the game.” – Rappler.com