sport

P60k? Rivero dedicates season–and points–to UP jeepney drivers


Ricci Rivero (left) will have thousands of reasons to ramp up his intensity this season

Ricci Rivero (left) will have thousands of reasons to ramp up his intensity this season. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

If Ricci Rivero at least matches his production during his 16-game elimination round stint in the 2019 UAAP men’s basketball tournament, a driver’s group within the University of the Philippines (UP) campus could receive at least P62,000 from the star swingman and his management group.

Rivero has pledged to donate P250 for every point he scores in Season 84 to the UP Ikot Drivers Association.

“When the pandemic affected the face-to-face classes and public transport, our UP Ikot drivers suffered a big loss in their earnings. And they have families to support,” said Rivero in a statement. “That’s why I decided to offer my final playing year to the UP Ikot drivers by helping them out. I am with the Ikot drivers in making a big comeback in our journey to serve UP.”

In 2019, Rivero averaged 7.8 points per game and his total production for that season was 124 points. That means that if he launched his charity drive that year, he would have donated P31,000 to the drivers.

That amount would be doubled to P62,000 because his management team, Virtual Playground, announced it was matching whatever the hotshot guard would raise—which doesn’t include his two-game Final Four stint.

Twitter storm

“When we learned about Ricci’s plan, I immediately said we wanted to also contribute,” said Charlie Dy, Rivero’s agent. The UP community had recently been upset by Rivero’s pronouncements on social media when the 23-year-old whipped up a Twitter storm with his apparent support for presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator whose administration was responsible for the detention and torture of some of the school’s brightest products.

The 6-foot-1 guard, who was part of La Salle’s 2016 UAAP title run, transferred to UP in 2018 and made his debut as a Fighting Maroon in UAAP Season 82.

It remains to be seen whether Rivero can match his pace during the last UAAP season. On one hand, he is the remaining star from that team and could seize command of the Maroons’ offense this year.

However, the Maroons have packed their roster with so much talent for this year, which could lead to a more spread-out scoring. UP picked up Santo Tomas skipper CJ Cansino from the rubble of the Tigers’ collapsed program and added the National U super juniors of Gilas cadet Carl Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano and Terrence Fortea.

The Maroons also boast Malick Diouf, a 6-foot-11 transferee from Centro Escolar University.

The UAAP will allow fans by the second round at the earliest. But the league has provided students with platforms to stay close to the game and the athletes.

The league partnered with Smart Communications, which will stream the games live via the GigaPlay app. The games can be accessed for free for a limited time.

Several features will be injected into the app to allow students to root for their schools and players virtually.

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