MANILA, Philippines – Ricci Rivero was once again on the other side of the court against Ateneo, but this time in a different jersey.
Although it was not the result that he wanted as the defending champions blew out University of the Philippines (UP) by 26 points in the 2018 UAAP Finals rematch, Rivero admitted that he missed the intensity of rivalry games.
"Yeah [I missed playing against Ateneo], I mean everyone wants to play against Ateneo," said Rivero.
Rivero last faced Ateneo in the 2017 UAAP Finals when he was still playing for La Salle. Back then, the Blue Eagles denied the Ben Mbala and Rivero-led Green Archers squad of back-to-back titles.
However, Rivero got entangled in several controversies, which prompted him to seek a fresh start elsewhere. The small forward wound up transferring to UP where he served a one-year residency last season.
Rivero, though, is just glad to be back in the league and teaming up with former US NCAA Division 1 player Kobe Paras, Season 79 Rookie of the Year Juan Gomez de Liaño, and 2018 UAAP MVP Bright Akhuetie.
"The UAAP is the UAAP, so I guess it’s really something that most – if not all people – feel that every time they’re going to play, it’s not about who they’re going to play with or against but it’s because of UAAP, so I think everyone [gives] it all," added Rivero.
Although they are locked at the No.2 spot in the standings, Rivero vowed that he would bounce back from the mistakes he committed in the first round with the goal of helping lead UP back to the title round.
"We can do a lot better as a team, we have so many mistakes, especially me, I actually know that. But I really believe that my team can do a lot better and get the top spot if we can show that we should be there," added Rivero. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.