AMID the exodus of young talents, Ricci Rivero remains committed to play for the University of the Philippines whenever the UAAP Season 84 resumes.
That's the assurance the flamboyant guard gave Fighting Maroons backer and Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla.
"Ricci has promised to play next season. He's gonna play and he has one more season. He's getting fit and ready to play," he said during a Sandwich Sessions with Summit Media editors and writers on Tuesday.
However, Remulla also acknowledged that Rivero is also looking at the offers as he plots the next chapter in his career amid the uncertainty of when the collegiate leagues can get back in action.
"I think he's waiting for the best offers to come, and I think that's the nature of the market. If the offer is good there, they're gonna take it," he said of Rivero, who his agent Charlie Dy has confirmed has received a number of offers to play in Japan.
UP has already taken a big hit from this new trend, with three players from its core departing Diliman and all heading to Japan.
Brothers Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano signed with the Ibaraki Robots and the Earthfriends Tokyo Z, respectively, while Kobe Paras joined Niigata Albirex BB. All three will make their professional debuts in the B.League this season.
Remulla shared that he got a chance to talk to these players but supported their move even if it meant bidding the Fighting Maroons goodbye.
"I did have conversations with our players before they transferred to Japan and we didn't try to stop them," the Cavite governor said. "We said we think you should do what's best for you."
The UP backer expects more players to follow suit in the coming years especially with Japan, Korea, and Australia all changing their rules on Asian imports to open fresh opportunities for Filipino ballers.
"I think this is the trend. I think a lot of our most talented college players will head over to Japan and Korea, not only because the competition is better, but the pay is really, really good. What they will earn there is double the amount of what their maximum contracts can be here in the Philippines," he said.
Remulla said he is glad the players are getting such opportunities, saying, "it's about time the world sees the talents that the Philippines has."
"I think we have world-class talents. I think Juan can play in any league in the world and I think he's good enough to be in the NBA. I think Kobe will dominate Japan. And in the next years, and we will see the exodus of our best and brightest going there abroad seeking greener pastures."
Gilas in Remulla's mind
The only request Remulla has for these outward-bound players? That they make themselves available for Gilas Pilipinas when their numbers get called.
"I think that [the overseas exodus is] nothing we can stop or should stop. I think we should even welcome their departure and for them to find a better life. My only prayer is that when they're called to serve the country, the national team, they can come back and help us bring Philippine basketball to greater heights," he said.
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