FIBA Asia Cup: Thirdy relishes chance to learn from Kiefer at qualifiers

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2020 11:32 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2020 01:28 PM

Even as he is looking forward to teaming up with Kiefer, Thirdy Ravena's focus is solely on getting to again represent the Philippines on the international stage. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines—Thirdy Ravena capped a busy Wednesday by putting shots up at Meralco Gym, long after Gilas Pilipinas practice had ended.

He returned to his old stomping grounds earlier that day, as the Ateneo Grade School retired his No. 0 jersey along with those of teammates Matt Nieto (No. 12) and Mike Nieto (No. 7). Afterward, Ravena rushed to the Meralco compound in time to join the national team in scrimmages.

Afterward, Ravena found out that he is included in the Gilas Pilipinas lineup for their game against Indonesia on February 23, a 12-man roster that includes his older brother, Kiefer.

"I don't know what to feel," said Ravena, who was the only collegiate player to join Gilas in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers last year. "Nabigla ako."

"Pero it's a great honor, a great privilege to play for Gilas once again," he added. "It's gonna be fun, with the program that's been going on, 'yung pinlan para sa amin."

"This is just the start, so can't wait to represent the Philippines once again."

Thirdy is one of five amateurs in the lineup, along with Ateneo teammates Matt Nieto and Isaac Go, Juan Gomez de Liaño of University of the Philippines, and incoming Blue Eagle Dwight Ramos.

Kiefer serves as the team captain for their first game of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, and he is joined by six other PBA stars: CJ Perez, Poy Erram, Abu Tratter, Justin Chua, Roger Pogoy, and Troy Rosario. 

The younger Ravena is relishing the opportunity to play with his brother on the national team.

"Masaya siya, pero at the same time, medyo malaking responsibility 'yun kasi 'yung kapatid ko para na rin siyang coach. Para rin siyang tatay ko," he explained. 

"Kahit on the court, tinuturuan niya rin ako."

Even as he is looking forward to teaming up with Kiefer, Thirdy's focus is solely on getting to represent the Philippines on the international stage once more. Gilas Pilipinas is favored against Indonesia, a team it has traditionally dominated, but Thirdy warns they cannot be complacent. 

Like the rest of the Gilas players, he is wary of what veteran coach Rajko Toroman brings to Indonesia, as well as the presence of a naturalized player. 

"It's coach Rajko, and they have a new system, and I think they have a new lineup from before," says Thirdy. "So it's gonna be tough, but we can't wait."

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