For the first time in 661 days, Ricci Rivero shared the court with the DLSU Green Archers.
However, he was no longer in the Green and White; instead, he wore the colors of the UP Fighting Maroons.
“I’ve said this so many times. Nung nasa La Salle ako, I was really thinking of myself playing for La Salle for my entire UAAP career,” Rivero recalled.
“It was really an unexpected thing that happened to me.”
Back on February 2, 2018, DLSU requested that he, his brother Prince, and good friend Brent Paraiso go on “leave”. That “leave” then ended with Rivero and Paraiso moving to new schools after a two-year stay in Taft.
And when he shared the court with his former team Wednesday, he was greeted with boos from the La Salle faithful during the introduction of players. Whenever he touched the ball, they would jeer him as well.
He holds no grudges, though, saying it was all part of the game.
“No hard feelings. La Salle is really my second home, and I’m happy playing against them because seeing those crowds, I used to play for them. I used to give everything I’ve got for them,” shared the 21-year-old, who won the UAAP Season 79 championship with La Salle and made the All-UAAP team a year later.
“I’m really happy that they booed me. For me, it felt really positive for me.”
Seeing the La Salle crowd show their school spirit made Rivero proud. He’d spent his formative years at both La Salle Greenhills and the De La Salle University. Deep down, he is still a La Sallian.
“I took it really positively kasi that’s their way of supporting their team, especially me playing for the other team. Sobrang yun talaga yung way nila, and yun talaga yung gawin to help the team win,” he continued.
“Thankful ako na ginawa nila yun.”
Rivero ended up getting the last laugh, though. Thanks to Juan Gomez de Liaño, UP were able to steal one against La Salle, taking a 72-71 win.
After the game, Rivero — who had nine points, six rebounds, and two assists — made sure to talk to his former teammates, especially Aljun Melecio and Brandon Bates.
“I really had fun playing against La Salle. I was talking to Aljun, I talked a little with Jamie, and I talked to Brandon about him not minding all the haters. I know Brandon, I’ve been with him for a couple of months. I just told him not to mind all the haters because the haters will always be there, especially when you guys lose,” he shared.
Rivero may have shed some tears, but it was for the past to move forward. Still, part of his heart will always be an Archer.