Top University of the Philippines scorer Ricci Rivero said the decision to skip the Philippine Basketball Association Rookie Draft and join a club team in Taiwan was a difficult decision to make.
The 24-year-old Rivero said this after he announced the beginning of his professional basketball career as the first first Asian to play as an Import in Taiwan’s P. League+ for the Taoyuan Pilots.
“I trust God on what he prepared for me. The PBA draft came at the peak of the UAAP finals at gusto ko pong makabawi sa mga pagkukulang at pagkakamali ko sa season. Ayaw ko muna isipin ang sarili ko noon at kung anong para sa akin lang,” said Rivero.
The P. League+ is the first fully professional basketball league in Taiwan after the Chinese Basketball Alliance ended in 2000, with the Pilots joining two years ago.
Rivero said he was focused on helping the UP Fighting Maroons make the finals and win their first UAAP crown a few months back first that he decided not to think about the PBA draft.
The offer to see action in Taiwan just came later on.
“Even the offer overseas po was never discussed to me by Virtual Playground until after the championship. We remained focused lang po muna sa UAAP. When luck favored our side in the UAAP and the PBA draft was over, the offers from international teams still stood. Naniniwala po ako that it was Him, who planned whats ahead of me for this year,” added Rivero.
He said the prospect of having 150,000 overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan cheer for him thrills him.
“There are nearly 150,000 Filipinos living and working in Taiwan, the mere thought of playing in front of them and be the first to represent them in one of Taiwan’s best basketball leagues is already a big motivation for me to choose Taiwan over other Asian Basketball Leagues,” added Rivero, who averaged 27 minutes and 13.57 points per game when he played for UP.
The 6-foot Rivero said the championship that UP won this year was unforgettable one for him and the experience he gained he said he will bring with him when he finally plays in Taiwan.
“‘Yung championship po bonus na lang talaga siya. Nasubaybayan naman po ninyo ang tinakbo ng karera ko sa UAAP, mula sa taas, hanggang sa baba, may mga pumapalakpak, maraming batikos, nababasa at nadidinig ko naman po lahat, pero kahit ano man po ang pagsubok na dumating, at mga pagkakataon na puwede ko naman sanang tanggapin agad, pinili ko po talagang huwag tumalikod,” added Rivero.