RIVAL Ateneo may be undergoing a massive buildup, but De La Salle will not be left behind.
The Green Archers have secured a commitment from reigning NCAA juniors MVP Prince Rivero, who admitted he nearly jumped fence to Ateneo before deciding to play for the Taft-based school.
No less than the La Salle Greenhills star's father confirmed the commitment they gave to the Green Archers when Rivero met with the team's top backer, Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco.
“Committed na kami sa La Salle. Doon gusto ni Prince," Rivero's father Paolo told Spin.ph. "Nag-usap na rin kasi sila ni Boss Danding.”
They Said It!
“Hindi naman siguro pwedeng sabihing utang na loob kay Boss Danding kaya kami nag-stay. Although we don’t deny na malaki na tulong ni boss sa pag-aaral nung mga anak ko, pero unfair to say na ang pag-stay niya kapalit nung naitulong." - Prince Rivero's father Paolo
Rivero's decision to play for the Green Archers more than makes up for the departure of fellow Greenies star Kobe Paras, who went to the US last week to play high school ball with Cathedral High in Los Angeles.
By acquiring Rivero, the Green Archers not only beefed up their frontline next season but also dented the rebuilding plans of Ateneo which had targeted the power-playing 6-3 forward to join pals Thirdy Ravena and Arvin Tolentino in a new-look Blue Eagles frontline.
[For full story, see Rebuilding Ateneo targets La Salle's Rivero, NU's Cani]
Rivero, in fact, admitted he nearly moved to the Blue Eagles' nest on the egging of Ravena and Tolentino, his former teammates in the Philippine team to the world 3 x 3 championships.
“Muntik na po talaga akong lumipat sa Ateneo. Kasi nga po andun sila, mga tropa ko. Saka maganda rin po yung programa na inaalok nila (Blue Eagles),” said the 18-year-old prodigy.
Spin.ph has earlier reported that San Beda star Tolentino has already committed to joining the Blue Eagles beginning next season.
“Pero mas naging matimbang po kasi sa akin yung comfortable na ako dito sa La Salle community,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rivero’s dad was quick to shoot down notion that they stayed in La Salle because the family was indebted to the school and Cojuangco who had funded the education not only of the player but also of his two other siblings.
“Hindi naman siguro pwedeng sabihing utang na loob kay Boss Danding kaya kami nag-stay. Although we don’t deny na malaki na tulong ni boss sa pag-aaral nung mga anak ko, pero unfair to say na ang pag-stay niya kapalit nung naitulong.
"No strings attached ang tulong ni Boss Danding sa amin at sa iba pa,” said the father.
Since the Rivero siblings transferred to La Salle Greenhills from National University last year, it was Cojuangco who had helped in the scholarships of Prince and brothers Rasheed (4th year) and Richie (2nd year).