By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
UAAP hoops superstar and former Gilas Pilipinas young cadet Ricci Rivero became the latest Filipino to sign with an overseas team.
Fresh off a historic UAAP championship title with the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, the senior shooting guard will unfold his next basketball chapter in Taiwan’s P. League as a professional.
The crafty Fighting Maroon will be playing for the Taoyuan Pilots in the upcoming season and will seek to provide immediate impact after the club finished with a 7-22 win-loss record.
During the Fighting Maroons’ playoff push, Rivero balled out and answered the call for UP after playing big games in their semifinal clash against the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers and the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles in the finals.
UP made history after breaking its championship title drought in 36 years and were the first team in the season to defeat the surging Blue Eagles including a stunning sweep in the grand finals.
Rivero already gave a hint of accepting the overseas offer from Taiwan after skipping the 2022 PBA Rookie Draft graced by his batch mates from the UAAP.
Basketball analysts projected Rivero as a top-five pick if he had entered the recently concluded Season 47 draft and could have joined either the Blackwater Bossing, the Terrafirma Dyip, Converge FiberXers, or the Rain or Shine Elastopainters.
Rivero will become the fourth Filipino to play in Taiwan and will follow the footsteps of Jason Brickman, Jordan Heading, and former PBA veteran KG Canaleta.
It was also reported that Zavier Lucero, Rivero’s teammate in UP, also received multiple offers to play in Taiwan but program director Bo Perasol said that he is confident that the swingman will play his final eligible playing year with the Fighting Maroons.