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Don Ketchum

Staff Writer,

Rivas enhances Chavez's chances of returning to title game

Nov 25, 2012

By Don Ketchum

Pablo Rivas is far from being a finished product on the basketball floor. But the 6-foot-6 junior from Laveen Cesar Chavez is looking pretty good as he moves along the assembly line.

As a sophomore, Rivas was a key factor for the Champions as they reached the Division I title game before falling to 66-53 to Tempe Corona del Sol.

The forward averaged 14.1 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game and was named D-I honorable mention by The Arizona Republic.

This season, Cesar Chavez is targeting a return to the title game and Rivas figures to be in the middle of all the action. He helped the team win its first three games last week in the Paradise Valley Invitational.

Rivas runs the floor with long strides and is capable of keeping up with some point guards. He can jump through the roof and has the necessary reach to help him with shot-blocking.

Cesar Chavez coach Gary Lee said Rivas is smoothing out some of the rough edges on offense in order to become a more complete player.

“He was big for us last year,’’ Lee said. “He protects the rim real well, he can block shots, rebounds and he can be intimidating.

“He finished real well on the (fast) breaks. But there is more to it than that. We are trying to expand his role by having him put the ball on the floor sometimes and improve on his mid-range shooting. He is trying to do that, and become more assertive overall.’’

After the team’s season-opening win over Phoenix North Canyon, Rivas was pleased but added that he and his team have a long way to go.

“We did great, but we have to keep playing hard and playing smart,’’ he said.

He agreed with his coach in regard to which areas he most needs to show improvement.

“I have been dribbling a lot, shooting, and I like running down the floor . . . I’ve also been lifting weights and trying to get stronger,’’ said Rivas, who weighs about 185 pounds.

Colleges are starting to send out inquiries to Rivas, but because of his size, he can’t be sure at this point where they would want to play him.

He theorizes that he will wind up as a small forward.

There is plenty of time to make these decisions.

“I just have to keep working on my college skills and figure out where I would fit best,’’ he said.

This year’s team has the potential to go a long way, he said.

“We have to stay focused. We have to make sure we don’t lose track of what we are trying to do. Take nobody for granted.

“I have to make sure I do what I am supposed to do. Put the ball in (the basket) when I have to, play strong defense and be a good teammate, support the guys. That’s what we have to do – support each other.’’