Ricci Rivero almost made the cut for the Philippines in the Asian Games.
But with the looming possibility of Jordan Clarkson joining the team in Indonesia, coach Yeng Guiao had no choice but to leave him off the roster along with fellow Gilas cadet Kobe Paras and TNT KaTropa’s Don Trollano.
“He actually almost made it in this team. Konting-konti na lang. Kaya lang sabi ko nga there has to be a slot for Jordan Clarkson in case he’s available,” Guiao told media during a team practice backed by Smart at the Meralco Gym on Friday.
The odds were already stacked against Rivero early on. The youngest player in the pool at 20, he had to contend with four other players, including Clarkson, for the last spot — which Asi Taulava booked — since Guiao reportedly named 10 shoo-ins for the lineup earlier this week.
Still, the 59-year-old mentor heaped praise on the new UP Maroon recruit, who reportedly didn’t miss a single practice with the team.
And it seems like Guiao’s a believer now.
“I’m really impressed. I think he can dominate college basketball with his talent, with his skills,” he said.
Guiao even extended an offer to Rivero to practice with his NLEX Road Warriors since the guard is currently serving his one-year residency with the UP Fighting Maroons.
“I actually invited him to practice, baka mas ma-hone pa ang skills niya,” Guiao bared. “I know he’s not playing this year. I know he’s practicing and if he wants to play in a different level of basketball, NLEX’s practice is open for him.”