After seeing his new team fall prey to the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Ricci Rivero is raring to suit up for the Fighting Maroons next season.
Rivero was present in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball finals series where UP succumbed to Ateneo, 99-81, giving the Blue Eagles a back-to-back championship.
"Mahirap na nanonood lang kapag dapat nandoon ka sa loob. I didn't expect this to happen na mag-sit out ako pero sobrang grabe 'yung goosebumps the whole game even sa semis pa lang," Rivero told reporters.
Rivero is set to play for UP in season 82 along with Kobe Paras, raising the expectations of the UP community.
"I'm just gonna try, work hard for next season. I'll try to give everything I've got to win games for the team," Rivero said.
According to the former De La Salle Archer, Ateneo's Finals experience played a pivotal role in helping the Blue Eagles clinch back-to-back titles. He also cited Ateneo's participation in off-season tournaments including the 2018 Jones Cup.
Half the team playing alongside each other from their high school days is also the Blue Eagles "x factor," he said.
But Rivero said he would not let the pressure get to him next season.
"Mas magpo-focus pa rin ako on how I usually prepare for every season. I'm really looking forward to playing with these guys," he said.
Even before the season ended, the Fighting Maroons were already touted as a title contender once Rivero and Paras join Bright Akhuetie next year.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).