In his second season, Ricci Rivero made a huge leap during the De La Salle University Green Archers’ title defense campaign. The 19-year-old embraced the role of one of the team’s scorers, helping ease the loss of Jeron Teng.
Even with the graduation of Teng and three other Green Archers — namely bruiser Jason Perkins, stopper Julian Sargent, and floor general Thomas Torres — the Green Archers were pegged to repeat their title win, as they still had world-talent Ben Mbala, leader Kib Montalbo, and young guns Ricci Rivero and Aljun Melecio unraveling their potential.
And it was Rivero shone the most, especially in the Finals, averaging 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.33 assists in the classic three-game series. Moreover, his emotional turnaround was also pivotal to winning Game Two and forcing a rubber match.
This time around, the Green Archers were not the last team standing, as the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles found a way to subdue them, 88-86.
Though he was saddened by the outcome, Rivero has no regrets, saying that they had already accepted the outcome moments after the game.
“At this point, we gave everything naman. Siguro [Ateneo] are more deserving than us lang. Siguro mas will na rin ni God na nanalo sila,” said the All-UAAP team member. “Hindi kami kaya nag pray na sana manalo kami.
“Nag-pray kami na whatever happens, sana yung will ni Papa Jesus yung mangyari and help niya lang kami sa mga situations na mahihirapan kami.”
Immediately after the awarding ceremony, he gathered with his older brother Prince and their parents near the cross in the dugout to console each other. The La Salle lifer is fortunate to have his family backing him up as he move on from this defeat.
Now that the Season 80’s Most Improved Player has experienced both winning and losing on the big stage, he wants to reflect from this experience and be back more mature as ever.
“Sobrang hirap lang ng feeling kasi yun, may ups and down talaga pero ngayon nasa down kami,” said Rivero as he tried to buck tears. “Laking factor siguro ng pagkatalong ito kasi pag natalo mas dun lahat dadating yung mas sincere na prayers mo. Parang mag lolook back ka, bakit nangyari ‘to and all.
“Titignan namin yung mga pagkakamali namin throughout the process tapos pipilitin namin maitama.”
And as he left the venue, Rivero granted a few supporters’ requests for a photo op before returning to the arms of his parents.
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