Ricci Rivero and other La Salle Standouts Left out of the 2023 Gilas Training Pool, Why?

Ricci Rivero of La Salle

Was DLSU selfish for not letting their players be a part of the Gilas training pool?

Chot Reyes revealed 23 new names on the Gilas training pool and while a lot of fans and players were happy to see most of the names, a lot of fans were wondering why La Salle’s Caracut, Melecio, and Rivero was not part of the list.
See complete list here (23 Gilas training pool complete list)
Fans online were buzzing about it and demanded answers as to why Coach Chot Reyes snubbed the highly touted players. In a recent interview however it was revealed that the Geen Archers wants their player off the list.
The DLSU Green Archers basketball program is currently in their transition period, which is why the likes of Ricci Rivero, Andrei Caracut and Aljun Melecio were asked by their alma mater to be excluded from the #23for23 pool for now.
Given the experience and the opportunity that the players could have had as part of the national training pool do you think De La Salle should have just allowed their players to join?

What Mbala’s departure means for La Salle and for the UAAP in general?

Mbala’s decision is final and is taking his talents to Mexico

Ever since coming into the UAAP last season, Ben Mbala has become a force to be reckoned with. Literally and figuratively, he’s a beast on the court and has become the main defensive anchor of the De La Salle Green Archers for the last two seasons. He won the MVP twice and is a member of the Mythical Team for two seasons. He helped La Salle win the first 13 games of the UAAP back in Season 79 before winning the championship against the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles.
Heading into Season 80, La Salle was tagged as favorites to repeat as champions despite losing Jeron Teng to graduation. And despite missing Ben Mbala for the first two games of the season due to Mbala’s commitment to his country’s national team, the Green Archers went on to return the favor to the Blue Eagles by ending the latter’s 13-game winning streak. Both teams went to the Finals again where Ateneo finally won the championship after winning the series, 2-1.
Coach Aldin Ayo has indicated right after the Finals that Ben Mbala will return for Season 81.
That was a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately for Aldin Ayo and company, they will have to figure things out on their own come next season because Ben Mbala has made the hardest and most heart-breaking decision not to return to the Green Archers. According to the reigning two-time MVP, his decision to leave La Salle was motivated by the questions surrounding his eligibility to play next season. This was due to the reports that the “Seven Year out of High School” rule has already lapsed. This rule was imposed by the UAAP to ease the lack of recruitment that was brought about by the implementation of the K-12 curriculum. Additionally, Ben Mbala has said that he felt it was already high time for him take his talents elsewhere instead of staying in Manila, doing nothing. He is now set to play in Mexico.

What Mbala’s departure means for La Salle and for the UAAP in general?

There’s no denying the fact that Ben Mbala is one of the best foreign players to play in the UAAP and La Salle will sorely miss him due to his competitiveness and the fact that he is almost impossible to guard. Replacing Mbala’s numbers would be a big headache for La Salle because it’s not every day that you see a kind of player who can score as if he’s LeBron James.
While La Salle will have headaches due to Mbala’s decision not to return, this could also mean less headache for the rest of the league. They won’t have to defend someone who is virtually unguardable. Also, Mbala’s decision has already made Ateneo’s road to repeating as champions, less complicated. 

Conclusion

Who will lead La Salle come next season and beyond? Like it or not, La Salle still has many players who can take over the leadership role and one of those guys is Ricci Rivero who played tremendously great this season. While losing Ben Mbala will be a big blow for La Salle, this will also allow other players to blossom. 

Championship shifts to Katipunan Anew as Ateneo outlasted La Salle in Game 3 of UAAP Finals

After missing a hook shot in the eliminations that may have given an outright finals berth, Isaac Go may have drained the biggest 3-point shot of his young collegiate career.
With 2 seconds remaining in their shot clock, Go received a pass from Thirdy Ravena and with no choice but to put up a shot, Go put up a looper and swishes the net as the buzzer sounds.
It was a grit and grind game as usual as La Salle managed to take the lead midway the 3rd quarter but Ateneo made a huge run in the 4th quarter to give them an 8 point lead. But again, La Salle fought back and cut the lead into 2 with Andrei Caracut 3-pointer. Then the Isaac Go Title-Clinching shot happened.

The supporter of both teams made the game more exciting as 22,012 fans made it to the venue to watch their favorite teams.
Thirdy Ravena was crowned Finals MVP as he finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists while Matt Nieto. Chiz Ikeh and Antos Asistio combined for 37 points to help Ravena.
Meanwhile, Season MVP Ben Mbala managed to collect 19 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks while Aljun Melecio, Ricci Rivero, Andre Caracut and Leonard Santillan managed to contribute, 16, 14, 13 and 11 points respectively.
With this championship, Ateneo Blue Eagles will get an iPhone X and Trip to Hongkong bonus from “MVP” Manny V. Pangilinan.

Another Collapse: La Salle Erases a 21-Point Lead, Force Game 3

2-time MVP Ben Mala comes up with big numbers

Ben Mbala recovered from his worst career game to help La Salle force a Game 3.
Coming into this best-of-three Finals series, the De La Salle Green Archers are tagged as the heavy favorites to win the championship anew owing to the fact that they have the two-time MVP Ben Mbala and an equally impressive sophomore in Ricci Rivero leading the team plus a surging Aljun Melecio. And, the Archers handed the top-seeded Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles their only loss in the 14-game elimination round which subsequently denied the Eagles an outright slot in the Finals.
But came along Game 1. The Blue Eagles surprised everyone else when they limited La Salle’s scoring machine, Ben Mbala, to a career-worst 8 points on 3 for 7 shooting. And Ateneo came away with a 76-70 win to move a win away from the championship.
In Game 2, everyone was expecting La Salle to fight back right from the opening tip but, it was still Ateneo who went up by as high as 21 points. However, that was the last of it as the defense of the Green and White finally started to click in during the second quarter which allowed La Salle to come within 9 points at the half- en route to taking Game 2 on a 92-83 win over the Eagles which set-up a winner-take-all match on Sunday.
How did it happen?  Below are the numbers:

The Mbala Effect. Plus More

As mentioned above, Ben Mbala was hardly a factor during the series’ opener but in the second game, the two-time MVP made sure that his presence was felt on both sides of the court as he led La Salle with 20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 blocks. However, Mbala wasn’t alone either. Ricci Rivero, despite having 4 fouls before halftime, scored 18 points while the dynamic duo of Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut combined for 25 points. 

Third Quarter Defense

La Salle gave up 32 points in the first quarter alone when they allowed Ateneo to build that big lead. Defense enabled the Green Archers to cut down the lead to 9 points at the half and from there, it was all La Salle. Aldin Ayo’s boys played stingy defense in the 3rd quarter which limited Ateneo to only 8 points on a horrible 3 for 17 shooting. La Salle on the other had 26 points in that 3rd quarter- making 9 of their 14 attempts.

Ateneo’s Ice-Cold Shooting from 3

Ateneo has been known as a team who likes to shoot threes. In the first half of Game 2, the Blue Eagles went 6 for 12 from the three-point line- 3 from Anton Asistio in the first quarter alone, things went south the rest of the way for the Blue and White as they only converted one of their ELEVEN attempts from rainbow country during the entire second half. Overall, La Salle’s defense limited Ateneo to only 34% field goal shooting. 

Conclusion

Simply put it this way: Ateneo needs to learn how to hold onto that big lead if they are to win Game 3. For La Salle, on the other hand, they need to find a way to clamp down on D during the early goings of the game because they cannot rely on Ben Mbala to get them to the promised land. 
Game 3 is on Sunday. Who will win? This basketball pundit on wheels says it’s gonna be La Salle. Again. Why? Unless Tab Baldwin has something in mind to contain the MVP, Mbala will be unstoppable. As he was in Game 2. 

By the Numbers: What Doomed the Blue Eagles Against La Salle?

Ateneo had the chance for an automatic Finals berth but failed. Miserably

De LaSalle Green Archers Fans
The fans of the Green Archers have many reasons to cheer about after yesterday’s win.

If you will recall what happened last season, the De La Salle Green Archers, then led by Jeron Teng and Ben Mbala had the chance to sweep the elimination round heading into game number 14 which was against none other than the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles. 
To everyone’s surprise, the Blue Eagles, a team nobody else expected to make the Final 4 that season, did the unexpected and handed the Green Archers their first and only loss of Season 79 as both teams went on to face each other in the Finals which was won by the Green Archers.
Yesterday, it was a complete reversal of roles. The Blue Eagles headed into their final game of the elimination round with a 13-0 record. 
In fact, the Blue Eagles even held a 12-point lead in the 4th quarter until La Salle Coach Aldin Ayo removed his Ralph Lauren jacket and threw it on the floor in frustrations. 
The result: the Green Archers went on a 10-0 run en route to a 79-76 victory over the Blue Eagles which restored a Final 4 platform which will start this coming Saturday to determine who will face who in the Finals.
How did La Salle’s spoil the fun for the Blue Eagles in a game that wasn’t decided until the final possession? Check the numbers below:

Big Ben with Big Numbers

Let’s start with the obvious one. If there’s one guy who could lead La Salle to victory as we saw last season, it’s the big guy in the middle, the reigning MVP, Ben Mbala. 
In yesterday’s game against the guys in blue, Mbala scored 13 points in the 2nd quarter alone en route finishing the game with 28 points, 19 rebounds, 6 steals and 6 blocks for another MVP-worthy performance and he was unchallenged for most parts. 
In fact, Mbala’s defensive presence in the dying seconds of the game prevented Ateneo from taking the lead. Mind you, #23 was hurt during the game but came back and scored crucial points down the stretch. 

21 Points from Ricci Rivero

Sure, Ateneo failed to contain Ben Mbala but Ricci Rivero? If anything, Ateneo’s equally costly failure to defend Ricci Rivero is another thing that cost them an automatic Finals berth in the first place. The younger Rivero scored 21 points- on an efficient 7 of 13 shooting, to compliment Mbala’s 28. 

La Salle’s Experience Prevailed in the 4th

The Green Archers outscored the Blue Eagles 25-13 in the final quarter alone. Even though they fell behind by as much as 12 points, they kept their composure which enabled them to hold onto the lead. 
Overall, it was La Salle’s defensive pressure that kept Ateneo from sweeping through the elimination round. They clamped down on defense. They forced Tab Baldwin’s boys to take low percentage shots and commit silly turnovers (22). 

Conclusion

Sweep or not. We all know that Ateneo and La Salle will meet again in the Finals unless both FEU and Adamson can overcome the twice-to-beat advantages that both Ateneo and La Salle are holding heading into the Final 4. 
For Ateneo, absorbing their first loss of the season will help them in the Final 4 as it will motivate them to do better in the semifinal round especially if they want to contend for another championship.
For La Salle, beating Ateneo, again, should not be a big deal for them because what should matter more is the championship. Beating their archrival is only a bonus if anything. 

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Why Ateneo won’t Win in the Finals against La Salle?

That’s assuming Ateneo sweeps the elimination rounds. And La Salle goes to the Finals, Too

The Blue Eagles are aiming for a possible sweep of the elimination rounds heading into their last 2 games: one of them is against La Salle. 
Sure, Thirdy Ravena soared up for a posterizing dunk in the dying minutes of the Blue Eagles’ 102-83 victory against the still winless UST Growling Tigers. 
Sure, the Blue Eagles were able to keep their undefeated slate with 2 more games to play. 
Sure, they can relax a little bit against the UP Fighting Maroons whom they will face next on Wednesday but knowing Tab Baldwin, he wouldn’t do it. 
It’s not in his character especially being recognized as an international coach. And if you’re facing a team like the Maroons, you should play as if you’re playing against the Ben Mbala-led Green Archers of La Salle because in case you haven’t been watching the UAAP, UP has accumulated 5 wins this season: one of them is against the Green Archers themselves so UP is not the team that Ateneo should be laughing at especially if they want to go straight to the Finals.
Now, La Salle, despite not being the who is on a verge of sweeping their way into the Finals, remains as the favorites to repeat as champions. 
Why? For one, they have the reigning MVP, Ben Mbala who is averaging 26 points per game this season and nobody in the league can match-up against him. 
Another reason why La Salle is still a better team than Ateneo is Ricci Rivero. Rivero has been playing impressive basketball aside from his high-flying dunks. 
Sure, Anton Asistio can knock down three after three after three but when it comes to athleticism, that’s where Ricci Rivero comes into the picture. In fact, it was Rivero’s 19 points that led the way for La Salle against the Blue Eagles back in their first-round encounter which Ateneo won, 76-75.
If there’s one team who is capable of going to the Finals aside from the defending champions, it’s the Blue Eagles. 
Why? They surprised everyone last season when they reached the Finals when everyone thought they wouldn’t even reach the Final 4. They were also the only team to beat La Salle last season. And they gave La Salle everything they had during the Finals and despite La Salle winning the championships thanks to the heroics of eventual Finals MVP Jeron Teng, everyone knew from that moment, Ateneo will be back in the Finals. 
The question is: Can they finally get over the hump and beat La Salle?

The answer is no

Why no? Below are the reasons:

Big Ben is a Big Problem

Sure, Chibueze Ikeh has been playing his best season with the Blue Eagles but Ben Mbala won last season’s MVP for one reason: he caused the biggest problems for his opponents. 
Sure, you can throw two or even three defenders against Mbala but given the fact that La Salle is also loaded with perimeter shooters, it’s not a strategy any coach would employ regardless of Mbala’s performance.
Ateneo may have an emerging Ikeh plus an improving Isaac Go but defending Mbala is entirely a different thing. Big Ben may have scored 18 points against Ateneo back in the first round but we all know he can score more and we can expect to put up an MVP performance come the second-round encounter between both teams on November 12, 2017. And he will be haunting Ateneo should both teams meet again come the Finals. 

Ateneo’s Dangerous Tendency

If there’s one thing that could doom Ateneo’s chances of winning the championship for the first time since the Norman Black era, it’s their bad habit of letting their opponents stay within striking distance before finally stepping on the accelerator late in the game and breaking the game open. This was visible during yesterday’s game between Ateneo and UST where the Growling Tigers were actually within 5 points during the early goings of the Finals until Ateneo stepped on the gas and were never threatened the rest of the way. 
The good thing was: it was only UST. It could have been worse had Ateneo was playing against La Salle. And Ateneo can’t play this way most especially against La Salle because whether Ateneo likes it or no, they were lucky against La Salle back in the first round. They allowed the Green Archers to actually take the lead in the 4th quarter only to win it thanks to a sorry La Salle turnover plus a pair of charities from Mike Nieto. 

Conclusion

Regardless if Ateneo sweeps the elimination rounds or not, we can expect both Ateneo and La Salle to meet again, at least two more times after November 12. For the Blue Eagles, it’s simple: Shut down Mbala and clamp down on defense and you beat the champs. Let the Archers hang around and you can say goodbye to a thrice-to-beat advantage in the Finals. 

Watch Ricci Rivero 6’1 Athletic Guard’s Dunks and Highlights, Potential Gilas?

 Ricci Rivero 6'1 athletic Guard Dunks
The young basketball player from La Salle, Ricci Rivero has quite made a following from the internet world. The player is a 6’1 guard that has been turning heads because of his athletic plays and of course slam dunks. Most people are saying that he is a potential PBA player and a strong national team candidate.
What do you think?


Watch Ricci Rivero’s highlights below.
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