After months of speculation, UAAP standout and Gilas cadet Ricci Rivero is now taking his talents to the UP Fighting Maroons.
Rivero announced on his Twitter account on Friday his decision to go the Diliman-based squad.
"They told me that UP Maroons fans were crazy about the team and were there for them, win or lose," Rivero said in a statement, also saying that he made his decision after consulting his family, friends, and Gilas teammates. "I saw that, too, when I played against them. UP fans are so loud you didn't know if they were up by ten or if their opponents were up by ten."
Earlier this year, the second-year forward first announced that he was taking a leave of absence from the De La Salle University basketball team. Last April, he also went to social media to bid goodbye to his former school. He thanked the La Salle community before saying, "It's now time to move forward."
"Just like any student, I have dreams and goals and I am willing to work hard and do everything I can to achieve them," Rivero shared. "If a school is willing to give me an opportunity to keep playing in the UAAP and grow as a basketball player and as a person, then I will gratefully accept it and do everything I can to help that school win a championship."
Rivero is coming off a breakout year in UAAP Season 80 where he averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. His sensational sophomore year earned him a spot in the Mythical Team selection.
For UP head coach Bo Perasol, he has nothing but high praise for the athletic young forward.
"We did our due diligence and took a long, hard look at Ricci, and it's clear to us that he will be an asset to the team and the university," the coach said.
The 19-year-old star will have to sit out Season 81 before he could join the team's strong core of reigning UAAP Rookie of Year Juan Gomez De Liaño, NCAA star Bright Akhuetie, and incoming freshman and NCAA Season 80 Juniors MVP Will Gozum.
"I am thankful that the University of the Philippines has offered me a chance to continue chasing my dreams, and I am honored to announce that I have accepted their invitation to join the UP Fighting Maroons," Rivero said.
Rivero is currently busy with the Gilas Cadets which is still playing in the ongoing 12th Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup presented by Chooks-To-Go.