Ricci Rivero's arrival proof UP means business in UAAP title bid, says Perasol
Prized recruit Ricci Rivero joins the UP Maroons in practice for the first time. Marlo Cueto

RICCI Rivero joined the University of the Philippines Maroons in practice for the first time on Tuesday night at the school’s gym in Diliman.

“Mag-eensayo na siya later,” said UP coach Bo Perasol after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between UP and top backer 3M Philippines on Tuesday afternoon.

”Pero sabi ko, magtiis muna dahil maliit, madilim, at maalikabok,” said Perasol in jest.

Rivero will be red-shirting for UP this year following two seasons with La Salle which saw him win a UAAP title in his rookie year and a place in the Mythical Five in his second year.

Perasol said he will start fielding Rivero in offseason tournaments except in the Filoil Cup, where only those eligible to play in the coming season are allowed to suit up.

Rivero will only be eligible to play for UP in 2019 or in Season 82.

Perasol noted the importance of Rivero to the UP program that is going all out to form a championship contender squad in the UAAP.

“It gives a semblance of being serious in what you are doing. Ricci is a winner. He is a top-caliber player. If he goes into a program like ours, it shows that we are serious in what we do,” said Perasol.

Perasol said he always believed the Maroons are a perfect vehicle for Rivero to redeem himself after his exit from La Salle.

“In the beginning, I was confident because I was talking to his parents and, eventually, to him. His vision is really na magkaroon siya ng chance to redeem himself. He thinks and I think that the best place for him to do that is right here in UP,” Perasol said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports