Rivero embraces leadership role in UP

Ricci Rivero has accepted the leadership role expected of him heading into UAAP Season 84.

Ricci Rivero (UAAP Media Bureau)

After all, Rivero is playing the final year of his collegiate career with the Fighting Maroons.

Thanks to the UP community and no less than head coach Goldwin Monteverde, the 6-foot-1 swingman made enough adjustments not only as a leader but also as one of the go-to guys for the Maroons.

"Actually, it's easier than I expected," said the 23-year-old Rivero. "Kasi 'yon nga, I have so much trust and faith in coach Gold's system. Nagtutulungan kami especially kay coach Gold."

Rivero, a one-time UAAP champion under De La Salle, said having a bubble setup for this season also paved the way for the rapport he made with the new UP tactician.

It would be recalled that Monteverde replaced Bo Perasol as head coach of the Fighting Maroons as the latter, who steered UP to back-to-back semifinals appearance the past two seasons, was named as the team's program director.

The departure of Kobe Paras, Bright Akhuetie, Gomez de Liaño brothers Juan and Javi, and Jun Manzo left Rivero with no choice but to lead the way for the Diliman-based squad.

"Palagi kami nag-uuusap. We got to talk a lot kaya nakatulong din 'yong bubble setup sakin na mag-lead kasi siyempre from time to time nakakapag-usap talaga kami ni coach Gold and the coaching staff. They've always been very vocal para sa buong team," added Rivero, who was part of the UAAP Mythical Team in 2017.

Leadership aside, Rivero shifted his focus on fitting Monteverde's system and giving pointers to his teammates once they enter the court.

With reinforced confidence, Rivero is expected to provide more spark in the next game after leading the Maroons to an 80-70 win over the National University Bulldogs Thursday, March 31 with 19 points and four assists.