Standout Filipino college basketball player Ricci Rivero said he wants to start his professional career by playing in the P.League+ as opposed to other leagues in Asia because of the sizeable Philippine community in Taiwan, his new team the Taoyuan Pilots said on Monday.
“There are nearly 150,000 Filipinos living and working in Taiwan, the mere thought of playing in front of them and being 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,” Rivero said in a Taoyuan Pilots statement.
Although adjusting to leaving his home country could be difficult, Rivero believes the support of Filipinos in Taiwan will help, the statement said.
Screengrab from Ricci Rivero’s Facebook
“I do not make promises, but I’ll work hard. Starting my professional career in Taiwan comes with a lot of pressure, responsibility and maturity, but the decision to live [here] comes with no regrets, because I know it will help me become better,” Rivero said.
Philippine sports management agency Virtual Playground on June 24 confirmed that Rivero would be suiting up for the Pilots by showing him wearing a Pilots jersey with the caption “Ricci Rivero to Taiwan.”
Since then, Rivero has generated headlines across the Philippines and Taiwan as the first-ever import player from Southeast Asia in the world.
“I am deeply honored. The trust given by the Pilots to have me on their team as the very first Asian to become a world import in the P.League+ is also a sign of their confidence in the basketball program of the Philippines. I am excited to work hard and contribute the best way I can,” Rivero said.
Rivero played in Taiwan in 2017, when he was part of the Philippine De La Salle University basketball team who played in the Buddha’s Light International Association Cup, earning praise as one of the best players in the tournament.
“Back in 2017, the overwhelming acceptance of both Taiwanese and Filipinos was a memorable one. I hope I can live up to the expectation this time,” Rivero said.
Rivero is expected to arrive in Taiwan in October, the Pilots said.
He is the only University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) basketball player to have won championships with two different schools.
Rivero won his first championship in 2016 during his rookie season at De La Salle University.
He then helped the University of the Philippines clinch its first championship since 1986 in May, averaging 14.67 points, 1.33 assists, 3.33 steals, and 1.0 blocks in the finals.
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