UAAP: Ricci Rivero considered joining Aldin Ayo at UST before moving to UP

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — A month following Ricci Rivero's departure from La Salle, the 19-year-old guard officially confirmed his move to the University of the Philippines (UP) last Friday.

READ: Ricci Rivero confirms transfer to UP Fighting Maroons

The announcement put an end to months of speculation on whether Rivero will be joining his former head coach, Aldin Ayo, who confirmed his move to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) earlier this year.

Prior to his transfer, Rivero shared it was a tough decision choosing which school to go to and revealed he heavily considered reuniting with his former mentor in Espana.

"Actually, yeah, I considered UST kasi first okay naman 'yung education sa UST; my mom's from UST, Coach Aldin's in UST and Brent transferred to UST so sobrang hirap nung choice talaga [choosing which school was tough]," Rivero said.

He said Coach Aldin was one of the best coaches he has ever played under.

"Parang father figure siya sa akin at sobrang dami niyang natulong sa akin. Siguro hindi ako magagamit last year if hindi ako tinulungan ni Coach Aldin," he added.

[Translation:He's like a father figure to me and he really helped me a lot. I think I will not have my playing time if not for his help.]

During their stint together at Taft, the multi-titled coach mentored Rivero for two years, which brought a University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men's basketball championship title in their rookie year - Season 79.

In his final season with the Green Archers, Rivero averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals making him a mainstay in Ayo's "Mayhem" brand of system.

However, the duo's glory days at La Salle came to an end following several controversies including management and endorsement issues.

"Nag-set sila ng new rules na nagka-conflict with me. I can't really stay na with La Salle. Medyo shaky na kasi so I think hindi na magiging healthy if I'm going to stay with them pa," explained Rivero.

[Translation:They set new rules that conflicted with my existing contracts. Things were becoming shaky so I think it would not be healthy if I still stayed with them.]

Now that the two are going separate ways in their respective UAAP schools, the 6-foot-1 combo guard shared he has not talked to his former mentor yet since announcing his transfer to the Fighting Maroons.

Leading up to the days before he committed to UP, Rivero also explained his biggest consideration in choosing his next team was finding a place where he could really fit in, system-wise and environment-wise.

"Kinonsider ko naman most schools pero I was looking for a school na magfi-fit ako sa system. Siyempre first is the education and second is if magfi-fit ako sa system and sa team. 'Yung mga makakasama ko if magiging okay ba sila for me or if okay ba 'yung kasama ko dun sa school and 'yung people around me."

[Translation:I was looking for a school that I will be a best fit. I considered the education the school could offer me, and if I could work well with my teammates.]

As Rivero takes his talents to the State University, he will be seeing familiar faces in Gilas teammate, Juan Gomez de Liano, and old friends, Javi Gomez de Liano and Diego Dario, who have already expressed their support to the newest Fighting Maroon.

"After the issue, sinasabi na nila 'bro, you're very much welcome here.' Parang gusto ko lang siguro mapunta dun sa place na sure ako na may taong magwe-welcome sa akin," said Rivero.

[Translation: I just want to be in a place where the people will welcome me.]

Rivero will be serving his one-year residency with the Fighting Maroons and is expected to suit up for the UAAP Season 82 to help put an end to UP's title drought.