WHAT was supposed to be a celebration for prized University of the Philippines recruits Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero ended on a sour note.
The Fighting Maroons bowed to the mighty San Beda Red Lions, 75-66, on Sunday in the 2019 Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup, spoiling the UP debut of the two high-flyers.
The two were unhappy with the loss but more disappointed over the officiating.
"I don't know. I want to watch the replay if what I did were really fouls cause I don't know. I was jumping straight up, San Beda's trying to hold us and we're just trying to remove their hands," said Rivero, who fouled out with still three minutes left in the third quarter.
Paras felt the same way.
"The refs were just terrible," added Paras. "I don't really get mad at the refs but today was just weird. Ricci got fouled out so our momentum just went off. Me and Bright (Akhuetie), we just didn't want to cause any distractions after Ricci fouled out."
Despite the loss, Paras and Rivero didn't do too badly in their debut.
Rivero finished with 18 points, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks, while Paras also had himself 18 points on a 6-of-15 shooting clip, to go with four boards and three rejections.
"It feels good," said Rivero, who transferred to Diliman last year after two seasons with La Salle. "It feels great. I've been with them for almost a year. It feels great and I'm looking forward to playing with them a lot more."
Paras echoed those sentiments.
"I'm looking forward to the next games," said the son of PBA and UP great Benjie. "We are not really looking to just win, we are looking to get better. There are a lot of 'experts' in basketball, who talk a lot and think that it's easy to create a team and play right away. Especially in college basketball, you have to build a connection and jell
"So that is what we have to work on in the next couple of games and that's what I'm looking forward to, getting better."
Both Rivero and Paras believe that the more games they play, the better UP will get as it aims to replicate or even exceed last year's runner-up finish in the UAAP.
"We are really good," said Paras. "We just have to get used to everything, the system, and the practices."
Rivero added: "We're getting there, though we just need more games. We're gonna be a team. We're gonna play as a team a lot more."