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UP star figures in near fight

By Jerome Lagunzad

University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol played down the involvement of prized recruit Ricci Rivero in an ugly shoving incident with an unidentified University of San Jose-Recoletos counterpart in the Passi Invitational Inter-Collegiate Basketball Tournament last Wednesday.

Based on the 25-second video relayed to Tempo-Bulletin by an ever-reliable source, the 6-foot-1 Rivero charged towards the Jaguars cager in full aggression and apparently hit him with a strong forearm on the face, nearly triggering a bench-clearing incident.

But game officials immediately stepped in and, according to Perasol, both Rivero and the USJR stalwart were forced to sit out for the remaining of the highly-physical encounter won by UP, 84-61.

“It was just the usual physical game. There’s nothing extraordinary,” said Perasol in a phone interview yesterday, just hours before the Fighting Maroons take on the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in a winner-take-all showdown at the Passi City Arena.

“It was just the usual physicality that is expected whenever a Manila-based team is taking on Cebuanos. It was just a heat of the moment. Good thing, the officials stepped right in and kept their control over the match,” he added.

After the Iloilo tourney, the Fighting Maroons will head to Serbia for a two-week training camp as they prime themselves up for the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament where they are considered as one of the top title contenders.