As the “UP Naming Mahal” hymn bellowed from the UP community, one interesting figure stood out from the crowd, right beside the bench of the Fighting Maroons.
Lasallian-turned-Isko Ricci Rivero joined the rest of the UP faithful during the singing of their alma mater song, after a 67-61 victory over the Green Archers at the Mall of Asia Arena. Sporting a maroon shirt, Rivero witnessed the Maroons snap out of a three-game losing streak in the expense of his former team.
The 6-foot-1 swingman played for two seasons with DLSU, the Seniors’ champions in Season 79 and runners-up in Season 80. In his breakout 2017-2018 season, Rivero earned a spot in the Mythical Five along with Thirdy Ravena, JJ Alejandro, Alvin Pasaol and Ben Mbala.
Following disagreements with the De La Salle team management, Rivero, along with his older brother Prince and buddy Brent Paraiso, bolted out of Taft prior to Season 81. After months of speculation, the younger Rivero ended up at UP Diliman, where he is currently serving a year of residency.
Right after the UP hymn, Rivero also raised his fist and took part when the Lasallian community sang their alma mater song.
“Sobrang weird ng feeling. Itong UP naging special sa akin kasi sila yung tumayo na family for me. Kahit sobrang tagal ko sa La Salle, ever since first year high school pa pero iba talaga yung na-feel ko paglipat ko ng UP”, shared Rivero.
Following his departure from DLSU, Rivero believes that his former squad is in good hands with first year head coach Louie Gonzalez who replaced Aldin Ayo after Season 80.
Nonetheless, Rivero paid homage to his former mentor, who has transferred to UST.
According to Rivero, “Nothing against Coach Louie. Pero si Coach Aldin, magaling mag-develop ng player. Ako, I admit, ang dami kong natutunan kay Coach Aldin. Hindi ako si Ricci ngayon kung hindi dahil kay Coach Aldin. Siguro, wala pa ako sa fifty percent ngayon.”
In anticipation of Season 82, Rivero has been regularly attending practices with the Maroons, under the guidance of Coach Bo Perasol. This early, Rivero cannot hide his excitement for a return to the UAAP.
“Sobrang excited. Pag start ko sa UP, nag-train ako with them sa Serbia. When we came back here, nag-focus ako sa studies. Malaking transition yung culture. Sobrang natutuwa ako sa UP kasi you get to know different kinds of people,” Rivero quipped.