Rivero rising for Phoenix—with lots of work ahead
PBA ALL-FILIPINO

Rivero rising for Phoenix—with lots of work ahead

/ 05:10 AM April 14, 2024

NorthPort Batang Pier Ricci Rivero PBA Philippine Cup

NorthPort Batang Pier’s Ricci Rivero in action in the PBA Philippine Cup. –PBA IMAGES

Ricci Rivero’s numbers for Phoenix have been on the rise in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup.

Fresh from his milestone All-Star selection, the rookie out of La Salle and University of the Philippines says it’s all because of the belief the Fuel Masters put in him.

“I think a lot of it comes from the coaches. Also, the trust given by my teammates,” he told the Inquirer after figuring prominently in the club’s return to the win column through a 113-107 conquest of Converge on Friday.

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“I’m just trying to follow [directions] and be within the pace that we want to be in,” he added.

From averaging 8.2 points during the elimination round of the Commissioner’s Cup, the fleet-footed guard is now norming 11.0 points. He had 17 to backstop Jason Perkins’ 26 in the triumph over the FiberXers that night at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

In a way, Rivero typifies what assistant coach Willy Wilson said in the postgame presser when asked about how Phoenix has been navigating its All-Filipino tournament after being one of the feel-good stories of the previous conference.

“Imagine having the Best Import of the Conference playing almost 48 minutes a night, and then you get to [give] all those minutes to guys who were not getting a ton of minutes,” said Wilson, referring to Johnathan Williams III, who served the club last conference.

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“Guys are finding their way, finding their role in the team and you saw that work right now.”

Rivero said he still feels that he has hardly adjusted to the PBA as he thinks the pioneering pro league is vastly different from his stints leading up to his rookie stint with Phoenix.

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“It’s actually a lot of work still,” he said. “This is way different from when I played in Taiwan. Then my last stint was a 3×3 [format]. There’s been a lot for me to [cover for] to be more comfortable.”

“But with the help of my coaches, the help of my teammates, it’s been easier for me,” he added.

Whether Rivero sustains his performance remains to be seen, and he will have quite the test in Phoenix’s next foe.

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The 2-4 (win-loss) Fuel Masters battle 2-2 Magnolia this Sunday at Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila.

TAGS: PBA Philippine Cup, Phoenix, Ricci Rivero

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