MANILA, Philippines – With just a few short months to go before the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament tips off, former Rookie of the Year Kiefer Ravena is pushing the Ateneo rookies – including his younger brother – in their team practices.
The Blue Eagles are out to redeem themselves after missing the Final Four in Season 76, and will be helped by several blue-chip recruits in the process – among them Ravena's younger brother, Thirdy, and former San Beda Red Cub Arvin Tolentino.
"Gusto ko i-push 'yung rookies namin, kasi we have so many good rookies coming in this year," Ravena said on The Score on Tuesday. "I don't want them to be complacent, kasi talo nga kami (last year), and we have a big season (coming up)."
"Kailangan talaga namin bumawi," he stressed. "So pinu-push ko talaga sila, kasi despite having how many months left before the UAAP, that will be gone by so fast lang."
"So tinutulak ko talaga sila to adjust quickly to our system."
His younger brother, Thirdy, is among the rookies that Ravena is pushing hard at practice, and the former Mythical Five member admits he can be harsh on the incoming freshman.
"I know his capabilities, and I think, kapag bumaba siya doon sa kakayanan niya, I think medyo nagiging harsh ako," he said. "Pero it's all part of the job, walang personalan."
"'Yun nga ang sabi ko sa kanya, before he was making his decision, (I told him), I’m really professional with basketball," Ravena added. "When we go inside the court, I treat you as a teammate. Walang kuya, walang kapatid."
Thirdy acknowledged that he is under a lot of pressure to live up to the hype, having been named the Most Valuable Player in the UAAP juniors, but feels he can handle the expectations.
"There is always pressure, so 'yung ginagawa ko na lang po is I turn that pressure into a challenge for me to be better, for me to work harder, para ma-meet ko 'yung mga expectations," the younger Ravena said.
It is the first time that the Ravena brothers will be playing together in the same team.
"It's a really good experience," said Thirdy. "We are very competitive, so during practices, kami pa rin ang nagbabantayan. We always try to push each other to our limits, para kami rin 'yung mag-benefit from it."