OVER A week after De La Salle bowed out of Final Four contention in UAAP Season 78, Green Archers power forward Prince Rivero has yet to get over the pain.
One of the most consistent players for the Taft-based squad this season, Rivero, a member of the 2015 Singapore Southeast Asian Games gold medal-winning team, said he can't wait to get going once again and wash away the bitter pain of defeat this season.
"Binigay ko na po lahat ngayon eh. Kaso talagang hindi para sa amin. Masakit talaga isipin na yung FEU at UST naglalaro pa, lalaban sila sa championship, tapos kami pahinga na," he said. "Nanghihinayang pa rin ako sa naging sakripisyo ng team."
The eldest son of Barako Bull assistant coach Paolo Rivero wasn't even in the mood to dwell on the positives in a season where he was one of the league's most improved players.
From his rookie year where he averaged 4.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 turnovers, Rivero has improved leaps and bounds in the current UAAP season with impressive figures of 11.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.6 turnovers per game for the Green Archers.
"Masaya ako dun (nag-improve ang contributons ko) pero para sa akin, mas naiisip ko yung para sa team. Mas masaya siguro ako ngayon kung ang pinag-uusapan natin ngayon eh 'yung thoughts ko para sa coming finals," he said laughing.
Longtime UAAP television panelist TJ Manotoc said he was impressed with maturity and vast improvement in the game of Rivero, who he dubbed as the 'glue guy' of La Salle.
"He has improved, but to me, it's not surprising, because sa ipinakita niyang flashes of brilliance last year, I can say his maturity is what amazed me more," said Manotoc.
"Ang laki ng value niya sa La Salle ngayong season. For me para siyang glue guy, he does a lot of intangibles. He does a lot of things you don't see on the stat sheet and only really the coaches will truly appreciate," he added.
Manotoc also took notice of the upsides of Rivero, a former Philippine under-16 and under-18 national cager who has three more years of eligibility left with the Green Archers.
"Magaling siya mag-cut, wala akong nakita sa collegiate (ranks) na ganun ang maturity at mataas ang IQ, marunong siya bumasa ng depensa," Manotoc said. "Hindi na nga niya kailangan tumalon, humahanap lang siya ng anggulo, nakakapuntos na eh."
Manotoc, however, bared the challenge facing Rivero with natural center Ben Mbala joining the team next season, saying the undersized forward will have to reinvent his game.
"Magaling sa magaling, but you know what's gonna happen next year, papasok na si Ben Mbala. Makakahawak pa kaya siya nun ng bola?" he said.
"He'd have to evolve, because he needs to evolve into a better passing and post-up forward, and he's capable. I know he can do that, he's got the smarts, the skills are there, he just had to polish it," added the son of legendary PBA coach Tommy Manotoc.
Rivero said he is willing to adapt to any situation.
"Ready ako anytime. I can play any role the coaching staff will give me. I will never complain. I just want to win and taste the glory of a UAAP seniors championship," said Rivero, who won titles with La Salle Greenhills in the NCAA during his high school career.