While La Salle Green Hills (LSGH) is not currently DLSU’s direct high school affiliate, as that title belongs to De La Salle-Zobel, the school on Ortigas Avenue has been a constant source of talent for the Green Archers.
Two former Green Archers from LSGH are not in this year’s team, as Robert Bolick has since transferred to San Beda and John Gob is still recovering from a pre-season ACL tear. However, the Green-and-White still boasts three former Junior Blazers, namely Prince and Ricci Rivero, and fifth-year senior Thomas Torres. With the addition of Ricci to this year’s line-up, it marks the fifth year in a row a player has made the transition from Green Hills to Taft.
Where it all started
All throughout his seven-year stay in LSGH, the young point guard worked hard to be one of the best in the team. On his last year as part of the Junior Blazers, Thomas Torres made his name known through his stellar performances as he led the team to its first NCAA Juniors championship stint since 1978. With that, different schools such as UP, ADMU, and DLSU scouted him out while he was still in high school, but in the end, he chose to play once more for the Green-and-White. Coming from a family of Lasallians was only one of the reasons why Torres decided on this, he explains. “This is my dream school talaga. This was the plan na even if they were gonna scout me, of course I wanted to show myself talaga.”
A family hobby is how Prince got into basketball. His younger brother, Rasheed Paolo, was the first among the three siblings to try out the sport. Having seen his brother have fun in basketball camp, and with a little push from his father, Prince tried out the sport at the age of 11 with his younger brother Ricci, and soon fell in love with it.
After three years in Nazareth School of National University for high school, the eldest Rivero then transferred to LSGH for his last two years of high school. His main reason was having a better chance to don the green and white jersey of DLSU, though he only got to play for the Junior Blazers for one year. Nevertheless, numerous schools such as UP, ADMU, UST, DLSU, and all the other UAAP schools took notice, before Prince ultimately decided to play for the Green Archers. “I really wanted to go here when I was young palang, this was my dream school and I didn’t even know na I would be able to play here in the future.”
Entering DLSU with the course AB Sports Management, Torres confesses he had a hard time transitioning from high school to Taft, not just in terms of basketball, but academics as well. His inspiration to do better in both fields came from wanting to shift to another course altogether. “When I entered DLSU, my course was Sports Management, it was okay, but I really wanted Business Management. When I told them that I wanted to shift, they were like, I need to give them the GPA. So I need to reach this GPA pa to shift. That was the one that motivated me to do better.”
For Prince, transitioning from secondary to tertiary education was inevitably hard. However, he tells that on those times that he was having difficulties balancing both basketball and academics, his family and teammates were ready to help him in whatever way possible. As a student-athlete, he explains that they get excused out of class numerous times, and this gives them the responsibility to find a way to learn what they missed. “Like [for] example, if I’m having a hard time in class, we try to get tutors to cope because we get excused a lot from our classes also. So we really need tutors and make-up classes, things like that. It’s hard, but it’s manageable, especially if you want to.”
Who they looked up to
As a fan of the Green Archers way before he was even a part of it, Torres made this his motivation to do better in order to someday be a part of the team. After getting the chance to don the jersey of the Green Archers, Torres was finally able to play with the athlete he looked up to, Green Archer alumnus LA Revilla. “I learned a lot from LA, I really looked up to him. Coming into DLSU, I was so excited practicing with them because he’s gonna be there, and how smart he is when it comes to playing basketball. That’s what I’ve learned from him.”
Not really mentioning a specific player, Rivero instead tells that the Lasallian community in general was one of his main influencers. The alumni and fans of the Taft-based squad gave support like he has never felt before. On his third year of high school in LSGH, he was presented with the other Junior Blazers to the said community as the future Archers. “I felt how they welcomed us, I love that feeling, and I will always love that one.” He explains that that feeling is what he will treasure and what pushes him to do better each day, “I am working very hard right now so that the people cheering for me and my team will be worth it. So every time I step into the court, every time they see me, or for example, may isang tao na first time manonood ng Green Archers I want them to see the best of me and the best of my abilities para wala silang regret.”
The rookie Rivero has entered DLSU a much better player from his high school days, showcasing an improved jumpshot and enthralling crowds with his athleticism. While just in his first year, he has played a big role in the success of the Green Archers this Season 79. He has continually sparked runs off the bench and even started a few games while Jeron Teng was injured. With four more years of eligibility to go, Ricci will look to become part of the next La Salle dynasty while thrilling the DLSU faithful and helping his team win along the way.
The Green Hills Influence
Though Torres and the Riveros were never able to play on the same team in Green Hills, they shared fond memories of their time in the school, on and off the court. In terms of basketball, Torres emphasized that playing in the NCAA had prepared him for the physicality that was awaiting him in college. He explains, “I think for me, my advantage is, La Salle Greenhills is in the NCAA. Because the physicality in the NCAA, even in juniors, it is really, really harsh. When you talk about NCAA, parang you know that they sometimes play dirty.”
On the other hand, it was the importance of trusting all his teammates that Prince remembers as his most important lesson. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing with, they might be strong, they might be weak, the only thing that can hinder you from winning is yourself, because there is no such thing as losing,” he elaborates. For him, a win would be ideal, but is not the only option. “It’s either you win or you learn.”
Thinking of his time off the court, Torres reflected on the days in which he was a “happy-go-lucky” student, even with quizzes and exams to study for the next day. He explains, “I was just thinking na ‘Oh there’s a quiz tomorrow, there’s an exam tomorrow, I’m just gonna look into my notes and then I’ll think I’ll pass’. But then you know when I entered college, real life, that’s when I realized na parang I should have balanced everything, I should have prepared myself when it comes to academics and not just basketball.”
While Torres studied in LSGH his entire life, the story was a bit different for the Riveros. With Prince coming from NU, he still remembers the struggle he had communicating in English with some of his classmates. “Some of the people there had a hard time talking in Tagalog, so I made a deal with them that they’ll help me with English and I’m going to help them with their Tagalog.” Along with this, Prince described himself as a person who didn’t socialize much. He credits LSGH in helping him become a more open person. “It helped me a lot, especially in my communication skills with people, the moment I went in LSGH.”
The basketball tradition
With current LSGH senior Troy Maliling having recently been crowned Junior NCAA MVP, it seems as if the school has produced yet another talent good enough for college hoops. When asked why Green Hills has had the knack of developing young talent, Rivero has a pretty straightforward answer. “What’s good in GH is that they prioritize academics, which helps a lot, because if you don’t really study, you don’t really get to exercise your mind, and if you don’t exercise your mind, you’re going to have a hard time because basketball is a game of thinking.” He continues, “If you don’t really think during the game then most likely the things you’re going to be doing inside the court will not be the right thing to do because nga you don’t really exercise it.”
This season marks Torres’ last playing year in the UAAP. After playing for the Green Archers for five years, he expresses his thoughts on this, sharing, “I still pray for the things I have right now.” Torres explains that he still does not believe that he got to play for his dream school. “Parang up to this point, it’s still a dream for me na I was able to go to La Salle and finish my five years. I think all my hard work has paid of since I was younger.” And planning not to stop there, Torres tells that he will still work hard even after graduating from La Salle to reach his full potential. His dream right after the UAAP will be to play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Having two more years to play in the UAAP, Prince would love to continue to represent the Green-and-White, especially now that his younger brother has joined the squad. “I wanna be there with my brother, all throughout my time in La Salle, to maximize me helping him and to ensure also that he’s gonna have a good future.”
Nonetheless, he does not close his doors to any possibility that life has to offer him. Like Torres, Prince plans to play in the PBA or maybe even the national team after graduating. “Who knows that we [Ricci] might get to be teammates again in the future, diba? Not just here but also in the pros or maybe even in Gilas [Pilipinas]!”
“I miss the way we go through things together and I just miss clowning around with my teachers and classmates,” were Ricci’s words when asked what he missed most about his high school. While all have since turned into key players for the Green Archers, all still look back at their time in LSGH, both on and off the court, as vital to their development as players. Though all were unable to win the championship in high school, all three will be looking to do everything they can to make sure they win one this year.