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Back to scratch

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Rivero brods, Paraiso out of La Salle

by Jerome Lagunzad

La Salle’s rebuilding process under new tactician Louie Gonzalez will practically start from scratch.

Promising guard Ricci Rivero, along with his elder brother Prince and wingman Brent Paraiso, has been put on the shelf by the Green Archers team management for violating a team rule, adding another chapter in what’s fast turning out to be a tumultuous off-season for the Taft-based squad.

Still reeling from the exit of reigning two-time UAAP MVP Ben Mbala followed by the transfer of two-time collegiate champion mentor Aldin Ayo to University of Santo Tomas, La Salle suffered yet another big blow after the Rivero brothers and Paraiso decided to take a leave of absence from the Green Archers’ practices.

In an official statement issued by the school’s Office of Sports Development on Friday night, La Salle announced “that they have implemented a policy that prohibits players to enter into sponsorship agreements with commercial entities. This will allow the players to focus on the games and team practices without any restrictions.”

The Rivero brothers, notably Ricci who’s been a fan favorite with his dazzling moves, and Paraiso apparently “requested to go on leave from the basketball team to honor their contractual obligations to their existing endorsements,” according to La Salle’s OSD.

While all three players are still enrolled at La Salle and are attending their respective classes, such can’t be said of their commitment to the Green Archers as they have yet to show up in practice since Gonzalez took over the reins from Ayo last month.

“I’ll just take this as a positive thing,” posted Ricci in a cryptic tweet on his personal Twitter account (@RicciRivero06) last Thursday night which has already garnered 15,000 likes and close to 4,000 retweets.

According to a team insider, La Salle’s chief bankroller Danding Cojuangco recently sat down with the Rivero brothers and Paraiso to shed light on the latest development.

While there’s hope that all parties involved can still patch things up, there’s also a growing speculation that the falling out could prompt the Rivero brothers to find a new home, with La Salle’s archrival, defending champion Ateneo, and Ayo’s UST looming as the likely destinations.

Ricci, without a doubt, is the most precious gem among the three players since he is coming off a remarkable showing during his sophomore year last season, piling up 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals that earned him the Most Imporved Player honors and an inclusion to the Mythical Team.