Follow your heart

Challenge to prove self outside comfort zone sealed Thirdy’s decision; Gilas Pilipinas stint no problem for Japanese squad
/ 05:00 AM June 27, 2020

Thirdy Ravena followed his heart out of his comfort zone. He’s free to follow it, too, should he want to answer the country’s call.

“Overall, I realized that the only reason why I’m here is that I love challenges—that I love competition and I love being outside my comfort zone,” the former Ateneo star said on Friday during his introductory press conference with San-en NeoPhoenix, the Japan B.League squad that he signed up with as an import.


“And that’s definitely something that I want to do,” the 3-time UAAP Finals Most Valuable Player added.

Ravena became the first Asian import of the Japanese pro league and his squad will allow him to fly back to the country for international duties should he be called up by Gilas Pilipinas.


“If he chooses the national team, then we will allow him to go back to the Philippines,” San-en CEO Kenjiro Hongo said.

“Obviously, I want to play for the national team,” Ravena added, who was making his first virtual appearance since the announcement of his acquisition.

Thirdy Ravena won’t turn his back on the country, and his Japanese squad will allow him to play for the national team if he needs to. —SHERWIN VARDELEON


Ravena hopes that with his stint in Japan, he will inspire other players to look for the path their heart is set on.

“If you want to play internationally, pursue that. If your heart’s into playing in the Philippines, you could do that as well,” the 23-year-old star said during the presser streamed through the B.League’s Facebook page.

“For me, it was just a matter of realizing what you want to do in life and where you want to do it,” he added.

Starting from scratch

In Japan, Ravena will have to adjust as he builds his stature from the ground, something he didn’t have to do if he opted for a PBA career. But the lure of stepping out of his comfort zone was worth starting from scratch anew.

And from the looks of it, Ravena is off to a good start as far as shedding off his hard-earned brand capital and stepping into a new challenge.


“I’m used to having blue and white as colors because of my university. Now, it’s red. It’s different,” said Ravena who sported a red shirt and red-dyed hair.

Asian Player Quota

The B.League has an Asian Player Quota system that is viewed to enhance teams’ “competitive abilities by matching with various Asian players in daily games and to expand business in the Asian market.”

Ravena, who answered queries from both the Japanese and Philippine media, admitted that making the decision to play in Japan wasn’t easy.

“I had anxiety,” he said.

Also present at the pres­ser was San-en general manager Seiichiro Kage who was all prai­ses for the athletic wingman.

“His ability is really great, so hopefully he gets the play the way he wants to do,” Kage said.

Hongo, meanwhile, was a bit more generous: “Thirdy is the best player in his country … I’m sure he’ll dominate the game.”

As a NeoPhoenix, Ravena will be donning the jersey No. 1 and is expected to play the point guard position—something he said he is ready to deal with.

“Whatever challenge it may be, I’m ready,” he said. “Playing point is something that I wasn’t used to, but if I’d have to, I will be.”

Better record

“I want to help [NeoPhoenix] to have a better record next season,” he said. “I don’t want to say any promises. I just want to show guys what we are [as an] organization.”

Ravena said he expects a lot from himself.

“A lot—things that I haven’t [even] expected from myself before,” he said.

“I expect from myself every time that I play, so there’s nothing new,” he added.

“Signing with him means a lot to me. I’m really proud of that,” Hongo said. “I’m looking forward to showing his game in the league.”

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TAGS: Basketball, Japan B.League, San-en NeoPhoenix, Sports, Thirdy Ravena
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