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Ricci Rivero still has utmost respect for Jack Santiago

Ricci Rivero finally spoke about his involvement in recent controversy with University of the East head coach Jack Santiago.

The first-year mentor was allegedly heard instructing his players to deliberately harm Rivero in their game last Saturday.

After a thorough review of the incident, UAAP Season 84 basketball commissioner Tonichi Pujante initially recommended to suspend Santiago for the remainder of the first round – three games. However, they downgraded the sanction and reduced it to two games after the UE head coach appealed to the commissioner’s office.

In a statement released through Virtual Playground, the 23-year-old swingman claimed that he still respects Santiago and will trust the decision made by the league officials.

“I will leave the decision to the Commissioner and the UAAP Board. I trust that they know what’s best for us athletes and the league,” Rivero stressed.

“Coach Jack and I together with Coach Jamike [Jarin] are friends and I have so much respect for them. I just hope he’s not serious when he said that.”

The Isabela native also insisted that the incident won’t get in his way for the remainder of their campaign. Instead, he is focusing on helping his team win.

Rivero, meanwhile, is off to a good start to the season. He has averaged 15.8 points through four games played in the first round.

“I don’t think it will affect me because I believe that intentionally hurting someone will not help you win. I will just focus on our goal this season and leave it all to God to watch over me,” he said.

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Santiago will serve his suspension in their next two games against Far Eastern University and Ateneo De Manila University.

An unnamed game official of the UP-UE bout will also received a one-gameday suspension. This, after failing to act on the situation despite hearing Santiago’s instructions to his players.

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