Thirdy Ravena takes act to Japanese BLeague
MANILA, Philippines—Former Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena made no secret of his desire to take his act overseas.
He gets that opportunity this year after signing with Japanese Professional Basketball League ballclub SAN EN NeoPhoenix as its Asian import.
The three-time UAAP Finals Most Valuable Player’s historic move to Japan was announced early Wednesday by the BLeague. Ravena is actually the first Asian import to sign with a Japanese division 1 team.
It’s a huge step up for Ravena, who skipped the PBA Draft last year as he set his sights on playing overseas. His impressive performance in the first window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers against Indonesia further raised his stock.
“The pressure will be different if you’re an import because you’re expected to perform right away,” said Ravena in a previous interview. “I am just preparing myself for the challenge.”
The BLeague season tips off in October with each team playing 60 games in the regular season.
Ravena’s ballclub is based in the Eastern Mikawa and Hamamatsu in the Shizuoka Prefecture, which is around two hours away from the capital Tokyo.
Former Alaska import Rob Dozier is also part of SAN EN, which also signed Serbian import Stevan Jelovac recently. BLeague allows two other imports, not counting players who are naturalized players. Serbian coach Branislav Vicentic calls the shots for SAN EN.
Former NBA players Josh Childress and Cartier Martin and ex-TNT import Jerald Honneycut also suited up for NeoPhoenix in previous seasons.