Primarily a bruiser and a backup big during his UAAP debut last year, a new set of bigger responsibilities now awaits De La Salle University’s Prince Rivero in his sophomore year.
Last season, the Green Archers had the luxury of having Arnold van Opstal and Norbert Torres, two of the league’s natural back-to-basket bigs, to command the defense of opposing teams which would lead to a lot of open perimeter shots. Having those kinds of players also made La Salle’s other frontcourt options like Rivero and Jason Perkins to play in their natural power forward slot which fortified their team’s strength in crashing the boards and scoring down low game-in and game-out.
But now, this year’s version of the Green Archers doesn’t possess the size advantage they had last season. With their younger agile bigs like rookie Larry Muyang and sophomore Abu Tratter still adjusting on their increased roles, Rivero must now capitalize on the experiences he gained and expand his game further to keep up with opposing team’s bigger frontcourt tandems.
“So far, marami pa kaming dapat to improve on our game individually and as a team. Marami pa kaming kailangan matutunan sa games pagdating sa practices and future games namin. We just have to absorb them,” Rivero told Tiebreaker Times when asked about his thoughts on facing La Salle’s challenges in their ongoing UAAP campaign. “We have to absorb ang mga sinasabi ng coaches at kung ano ang gagawin ng kalaban. Kailangan namin maka-adapt sa situations para maka-adjust kami throughout our next set of games.”
Despite being only a sophomore in the league, Rivero is heavily stacked when it comes to his collection of basketball experiences. He was part of the 2015 Gilas Cadets that won gold in the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held at Singapore and was also part of the Philippine Men’s National Basketball team that competed in the 2013 FIBA Asia U18 3X3 Tournament. In addition, Rivero was also the NCAA Season 89 Juniors Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the Mythical team. He was also part of the National University Bullpups team that won the championship in 2011.
“Para sa akin, una, to be part of it [SEA Games], I’m super thankful and blessed. Sobrang konti lang ng puwede makuha doon. My experience doon helped me a lot because the level of competition is higher than this one [UAAP] and then I’m playing against the best doon sa age bracket na iyon,” Rivero shared. “I think the biggest help na maibibigay noon sa akin is the experience I got there and the confidence that it gave sa game ko especially in getting rebounds, playing defense and having communication inside the court.”
With all of those accumulated experiences, Rivero’s basketball IQ surely benefitted from it. In his stint with the Green Archers, Rivero had flashed his advanced footwork, knack for rebounding, and also shown the ability to play multiple positions as he alternates playing at center and power forward and he sees some action at small forward in short bursts.
“Actually, I just have to be more versatile about it and I have to work on my legs para whatever Coach Juno [Sauler] wants me to play, [whether it is the] three, four or five,” he added. “If I play at the five, I can push the big guys out. If I play at the 3, I can play defense with the [small forward] guys. So now, I’m working on my legs and my speed.”
Now, with DLSU having a 2-2 start to their season. Rivero’s hopes that he can make a major impact in his team’s bid for the title. He is ready on whatever his coach tells him to do and he will not give up that easily on whatever challenges await him.
“My personal goal is I want to help the team win the championship and whatever Coach Juno wants me to do, I’ll do it. I know that whatever he’s going to make me do, it’s going to help [the team].”
For their next game, Rivero and the Green Archers shall face the University of the East Red Warriors this coming Sunday, 2:00 pm, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Hopefully sa mga next games namin maka-adjust pa kami a little bit more. Ang space namin for errors is very small [so that] we could avoid committing errors that might cause another loss.”
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