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INTERVIEW: Rian G. Hernandez
PHOTOGRAPHY: Miguel Nacianceno 

La Salle Green Archers, 1997-2001

Aside from leading the Archers to a four-peat, what were your other achievements in the UAAP?
I was part of the Mythical Five from 1997 to 2001. I was Rookie of the Year and was twice a Finals MVP. Sobrang bilis nung mga nangyari sa akin, eh. Bata pa lang ako I dreamed of playing basketball. Sabi ng mom ko one year old pa lang ako hawak ko na yung bola. Yung dad ko [Florendo Ritualo Sr.], former basketball player din kaya lahat ng gifts na natatanggap ko ay bola.

But what would you consider your greatest achievement in the collegiate ranks?
Yung championships namin. Everything else follows na lang—yung individual awards, retirement ng jersey ko. Lahat yun sumunod. At siyempre yung graduation ko achievement din. Yun yung di ko maipagpapalit sa kahit ano. Iba ang feeling pag grumadweyt, eh.  

What was your jersey number?
Number 14 ako talaga kaso retired yung number 14 kasi it was Lim Eng Beng’s. So kinuha ko yung number 4. Ngayon naman ni-retire na yung number ko. Isn’t it ironic?

Who among your teammates in your title-run were you close to?
Almost everyone [ka-close ko]. Sina Dino Aldeguer, Francis Zamora, Don Allado, Dominic Uy. Wala pa nga akong kotse nun, nakiki-hitch lang ako kay Dominic every day. Pati sina Mon Jose, Alvin Castro halos lahat. Kahit sina Mac Cardona, Joseph Yeo ka-close ko rin—nung rookie year nila senior year ko so kasama ko sila parati.

You are touted as the next Allan Caidic. Does this pressure you?
Hindi naman. Sabi nga nung mga naging coach ko, in and out of basketball, on and off the court, laging may pressure yan. May narinig nga ako sa NBA na “Playing in the playoffs is not pressure, raising four kids is pressure.” Laging nandiyan ang pressure. But when you’re pressured, yung focus mo nandun.

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