Ricci Rivero says separation from Prince, pal Paraiso a chance for them to 'grow individually'
Ricci Rivero is relishing the chance to improve his game with the Gilas cadets. Marlo Cueto

RICCI Rivero is putting his focus on his stint with the Gilas Pilipinas cadets while undergoing a one-year residency with University of the Philippines after his transfer from La Salle.

While the flamboyant guard is expected to suit up for the Maroons in offseason tournaments while undergoing residency, Rivero wants to make the most of an opportunity to improve his game through his stint with the Gilas cadets.

Rivero is also relishing the chance to play for the national team overseas as there is a possibility that the Gilas cadets will represent the country both in the William Jones Cup in Taipei and the Asian Games in Indonesia, due to the likely unavailability of PBA players.

“Focus ako sa Gilas,” said Rivero following Gilas practice. ”I told Coach Bo (Perasol) na if may game sa UP, I’m going to play for UP sa mga summer leagues. If there is conflict with Gilas, sabi ko, if okay lang, paalam muna ako na maglaro dito kasi iba ‘yung experience dito na mage-gain ko playing with some of the best players in college.”

The 20-year-old will not be eligible to play for UP until UAAP Season 82 or in 2019 but this early, Rivero said he is looking forward to fitting in with the Maroons.

“I’m going to give my best no matter what. Every time I have a team, every time I play for the school, I always want to follow what the coach wants me to do.

“First, gusto ko mag-fit sa system. Lahat naman ng coaches, gusto lahat mag-gel ‘yung team through sa system na gusto niya. Kung ano ‘yung gusto ng coach sa akin, defense or create for my teammates, or kahit sa bench lang ako, basta nakakatulong ako, nakakapag-pump up ako ng mga teammates ko, ready naman ako sa mga plans sa akin,” said Rivero.

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Rivero said he decided to transfer to UP for the education as well as the style of play of the Maroons that he felt best fits him.

“Actually, I considered all the schools naman especially those who talked to me but actually, okay naman education ng lahat ng school. I considered UP kasi alam naman natin na okay ‘yung education. Gusto ko rin sa team na tingin ko magfi-fit ako sa system,” said Rivero.

Rivero also said his move to UP is also a chance for him to grow individually, having played with his brother Prince and good friend Brent Paraiso for several years.

Paraiso has reunited with former La Salle coach Aldin Ayo at University of Santo Tomas while Prince is set to take his act to the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).

“Gusto ko rin magkasama kami ni Brent pero nag-decide siya na mag-UST. Nag-usap din kami. Mas feel ko na kailangan namin mag-grow individually para ma-learn namin ‘yung different experiences pa by myself," said the 6-2 high-flyer.

"Like Prince, ever since high school, parati ko siya kasama. When I went up in college, kasama ko uli siya. I think gusto ko ng somethign new. Gusto ko mag-grow alone,” said Ricci.

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