Prince picks up Ricci after ‘meltdown’
Prince Rivero’s numbers may pale in comparison to the stats his other teammates submitted in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 80 Finals Wednesday.
But his one “play” may have saved La Salle’s season—and the Archers’ title defense: He literally shook brother Ricci Rivero out of an emotional meltdown.
The sophomore sensation endured a roller-coaster of emotions and was a near goner before playing a huge role in La Salle’s mighty comeback over fierce rival Ateneo at Smart Araneta Coliseum that sent the UAAP Season 80 finals series into a deciding game.
Both sides of Ricci’s performance book-ended a scene caught on camera in the sidelines, as the athletic wingman headed to the bench in tears after picking up his fourth foul in the second quarter: Prince cupping Ricci’s head and shaking it while he delivered an urgent message.
“At that point, I was frustrated because I couldn’t help the team despite my willingness to win,” said 19-year-old Ricci in Filipino. “But Kuya (Prince) told me that it’s a positive thing because even if I can’t be on the court, I can still cheer for my teammates. He told me to stay positive.”
The day started out gloriously for Rivero, who picked up his first Mythical Five award before Game 2. And then, it went wrong horribly before ending in glory.
And much like in Game 1 when Ateneo’s Mike Nieto drew inspiration from the incident involving his brother Matt to lead the Blue Eagles to a 76-70 win, it was the Rivero brothers’ turn to take the spotlight in the emotionally-charged series.
“Kuya (Prince) told me to cry and let my emotions out,” said Ricci. “As soon as I’m done, he told me I’m going to be fine in the second half.”
True enough, Ricci came out of the dugout with newfound confidence, taking charge of the offense in crucial stretches as the Archers completed a stunning turnaround for a 92-83 victory.
It turned out, too, that Ricci was already saddled with emotions going into the game.
Ricci said he dedicated his performance to the late best friend of Brendan Paraiso, who is the younger brother of fellow Archer, Brent Paraiso, Ricci’s closest friend in the team.
“I saw Brendan staring into space because his friend, David, was in a coma. Then he passed away last Tuesday night,” Ricci recalled. “I told Brendan that he has to overcome the negativities and I’ll offer the game to David.”
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