Rich Alvarez is a Japanese-born Filipino-American professional basketball player currently playing for the Air21 Express in Asia's first play-for-pay league, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA.) Alvarez was famous for spearheading the famed Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles to a championship in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) against no less than their arch rival the De La Salle University Green Archers.
Alvarez grew up in Tokyo, Japan where he first showed his wares as a basketball player, playing for the Nile C. Kinnick High School Basketball Varsity Squad. Shortly, after finishing his secondary studies, the young athletic forward flew to the Philippines.
At home turf, Alvarez attended Ateneo where he became a pivotal part of both the team's offense and defense. Alvarez was well-loved by Ateneans due to his tenacity and hustle plays. Thus, as a sophomore in 2000, Alvarez won the coveted UAAP MVP award outclassing the likes of King Archer Mike Cortez, fellow Blue Eagle Enrico Villanueva and UST's Cyrus Baguio.
The following year, Alvarez won his second UAAP plum. However, the team still failed to win it all as the Green Archers established their dynasty in the collegiate ranks courtesy of winning their fourth-straight UAAP championship.
In 2002, the Blue Eagles transformed into a much more cohesive team as Alvarez and Villanueva were provided with a stellar supporting cast composed of LA Tenorio, Larry Fonacier, Wesley Gonzales and Gec Chia. The Blue Eagles upset the Green Archers in the tournament's last elimination game to forbid them of a 14-0 sweep.
In the final four, the Alvarez-led team faced huge odds and a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the University of the East Red Warriors powered by the troika of James Yap, Paul Artadi and Ronald Tubid. As history has it, the Blue Eagles dispatched the Red Warriors via a nerve-racking winning shot by Chia. Eventually, the Blue Eagles won the championship at the expense of the highly-favored Green Archers.
Upon finishing his collegiate career, Alvarez entered the PBA draft in 2003 and was selected by the Shell Turbo Chargers as the first overall pick ahead of the popular and highly-touted superstar Yap.
In his rookie year, Alvarez won the highest rookie honors despite stiff competition from Yap. However, as fate has it Alvarez rookie year was arguably his best.
From his sophomore year onwards, Alvarez's numbers took a huge dip as he was traded to the Alaska Aces. The following year he was involved into a blockbuster multi-player deal that sent him to the Ginebra Kings. The journeyman trend continues until now where the talented 6-foot-4 slotman plays for the Air21 franchise.