Ricci Rivero UP UAAP Finals

Ricci Rivero. UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Inching a win closer from ending University of the Philippines’ 36-year title drought, Ricci Rivero refuses to get ahead of himself, vowing to come out with the same mindset in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball Finals.

The graduating guard scored crucial baskets and made timely stops in overtime as UP stunned defending champion Ateneo, 81-74, in Game 1 on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.

After putting the Blue Eagles, who ruled the last three UAAP seasons, on the brink of getting dethroned, Rivero stressed the importance of keeping focus heading into Game 2 on Wednesday, at 6 p.m.

“I don’t wanna think about if we’re up by one game or not, or whether we’re up during the game or we’re down,” said Rivero, who topscored with 19 points, two assists, four steals and two blocks.

“It has to come from us, to really want it more, more than the other team for us to be able to get the win.”

As the only player from the Fighting Maroons with a championship experience — during his rookie year at La Salle in 2016, the flamboyant guard believes that the Fighting Maroons have to treat the next game without thinking of their 1-0 lead.

“For me, minsan nagiging hindrance pa siya doon sa gagawin namin na dapat. Mas gusto kong isipin na 0-0 ulit kami after this for us to be able to have that good and right mindset coming to Game 2,” Rivero said.

(Sometimes it could be a hindrance to the things that we should do. I’d rather look at Game 2 as 0-0 for us to be able to have that good and right mindset.)

“It doesn’t really give us the confidence, like legit confidence that ‘Okay we’re up by one, we’re gonna win this.’ It’s not really gonna matter,” he added.

As they brace for a tougher Ateneo in Game 2 on Wednesday, Rivero knows what this UP team is capable of as long as they stick to coach Goldwin Monteverde’s system that already beat the defending champion twice this season.

“It’s all about us knowing how good the team is and what the team is capable of doing and achieving, as long as we just stick as a team, stick to each other and just trust coach Gold’s system. I think we’re gonna go through that game,” Rivero said.


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