Rivero sets defensive mindset to fit Team Pilipinas

Mark Escarlote on Nov 13, 2018 01:27 PM
Rivero sets defensive mindset to fit Team Pilipinas
As a college player, i-try ko lang gawin ‘yung mga gusto ni coach Yeng, (gagawin ko) ‘yung mga sasabihin niya sa akin and then ‘yung sasabihin ng ibang coaches and ng mga kuya ko -- Ricci Rivero

Ricci Rivero is willing to put his offense on the backseat and provide the needed defensive stability if given a chance to don the tricolors of Team Pilipinas.

Known for his slick moves and scoring prowess, Rivero is willing to set aside his Euro-stepping style of offense and give his best effort on defense to fit the system of head coach Yeng Guiao as the Philippines prepares for the fifth window of the 2019 World Cup Asia Qualifiers.     

“As a college player, i-try ko lang gawin ‘yung mga gusto ni Coach Yeng, (gagawin ko) ‘yung mga sasabihin niya sa akin and then ‘yung sasabihin ng ibang coaches and ng mga kuya ko,” said Rivero of the University of the Philippines, who attended the first training session of the 20-man pool Monday night.    

The guard got his second call up for the Nationals since missing the final cut for the squad that saw action in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games last August. He hopes to make it this time to the national squad that will host Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Playing hard defense is nothing new to Rivero, who during his time with De La Salle University under Aldin Ayo played a vital role in the Green Archers’ ‘mayhem defense’ that became synonymous to the Taft-based squad’s UAAP Season 79 title reign.  

And if Guaio wants him to play defense, Rivero will be happy to oblige.   

“Ita-try ko ‘yung best ko na first sa defense talaga kasi ever since nag-ano (naglaro) ako kay Coach Aldin (Ayo) ‘yun na talaga ang naturo niya sa akin kukunin namin ang offense namin through defense. So I think ‘yun rin naman ang gusto ni Coach Yeng,” he said.

Competition for spots in the national team is stiff especially with the likes of veteran guards Jayson Castro, Marcio Lassiter, Matthew Wright, Paul Lee, Scottie Thompson and UP assistant coach Alex Cabagnot all vying to be included in the official roster, but Rivero remains upbeat whatever fate has in store for him.

“This time hindi ako nag-pray na, ‘Lord sana makapasok ako’ something like that. Sabi ko lang kung ano ang makakabuti sa akin and sa team ‘yun ang mangyari kasi what if ipipilit ko nga na makapasok ako tapos masama naman ‘yung outcome,” Rivero said. “So ayun, kung ano na lang ang makakabuti sa akin and sa team and sa mas nakakarami.”

“Hindi ko naman talaga pinipilit, though syempre pinipilit na makapasok pero ibibigay ko lang ‘yung best ko and makikinig lang ako doon sa mga coaches,” he added.

Other Team Pilipinas hopefuls are June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwod, Poy Erram, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Ian Sangalang and 16-year old, 7-foot-1 Kai Sotto.  

 

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