There are moments when people break down under the gravity of the situation. In those instances, people can either sink or swim under the tide.
Ricci Rivero was feeling that moment. Down by as many as 21 points in the second quarter, the former La Salle Greenhills Greenie was on the verge of fouling out early in the De La Salle Green Archers’ most pivotal game of the season.
The sophomore wingman incurred his fourth foul before halftime, which forced La Salle coach Aldin Ayo to put him back on the bench.
“Siguro yung gigil; it’s not about getting awards or what,” admitted the 18-year-old. “Sobrang minsan lang ako nag-finals, even in high school wala akong experience.
“Siguro yung willingness to win and yung hype ng Ateneo-La Salle, tapos finals siya and Game Two. Nandun talaga yung gigil eh.”
When his name was called out, tears flowed from Rivero’s eyes and he needed to be spoken to by his older brother Prince, as well as the rest of the Green Archers’ coaches, players and team managers. He needed to calm down.
“Sabi lang ng brother ko na that wasn’t me,” he shared. “Kailangan maglaro ako na hang loose lang. Relax and hindi yung gigil.
“Stay positive. Trust sa teammates ko and hope. Paulit-ulit lang.
“Gusto nila positive pa rin kami sa bench. Pag hindi ako makatulong sa loob ng court, mag cheer-lang ako sa bench,” he added.
Come the second half, Rivero emerged a different man. From just six points in the first half, the All-UAAP team member exploded with 12 points to finish with 18 markers at the end of the game, as La Salle defeated the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, 92-83, to force a rubber match on December 3.
All that while nursing his four fouls.
“Yung second half siguro it wasn’t me who played. It was God.
“The whole time na nasa bench ako I was praying lang. Parang Siya yung gumawa ng turning point para manalo kami and makatulong ako,” said Rivero.
Rivero proved that he can swim and survive the tide. Now it’s up to him and the rest of the Green Archers to keep sailing on their way to a title defense.
“Siyempre happy (ako right now) pero like what coach (Aldin Ayo) said, ‘don’t celebrate until it’s finished na. Siguro hindi kami mag-stop to work for the next game and we offer everything to God.”