MANILA, Philippines -- There are high expectations for Thirdy Ravena within the San-En NeoPhoenix organization, after he signed with the club as an Asian import earlier this week.
Ravena was formally introduced on Friday, with Phoenix Co., Ltd. chief executive Kenjiro Hongo and general manager Seiichiro Kage both welcoming the former Ateneo standout into the team.
"We were trying to find a great player, and finally we met Thirdy and decided to sign with him," Hongo said. "Thirdy is the best player in his country, and signing him means a lot to me."
"I'm very proud of that, and I'm looking forward to showing him in the B.League," he added.
"We are using Asia player quotas and Thirdy is the best guy to be here," Kage said, for his part.
This is the first season that B.League teams are allowed to sign Asian players, using their Asian player quota system. Ravena is the first player signed to the league under the new rules, which was implemented to "enhance competitive abilities… and to expand business in the Asian market."
Ravena was recruited by teams from New Zealand, Australia and Italy aside from a couple of teams in the B.League, but ultimately decided to sign with NeoPhoenix.
Hongo believes the three-time UAAP champion will be a good fit for their team, which is trying to bounce back after a five-win campaign last season.
"As a member of the Phoenix, he's a key player," Hongo said. "He will be a key player this season."
"His play is very powerful and speedy, so it's fun to see. He can play as a point guard (too)," he added.
"Our concept, the NeoPhoenix concept is to run fast, to play hard on defense," Hongo also said. "For sure, he'll fit in our team."
Ravena had opted to explore overseas opportunities instead of declaring for the PBA Draft after a stellar collegiate career with the Blue Eagles, wherein he earned Finals MVP honors three straight times. The 23-year-old said he welcomed the new challenge with his new team.
"(It's) definitely gonna be a harder adjustment for me, but I'm with the process," said Ravena. "I'm ready to take on the challenge, whatever it may be."
"I have goals, and I chose NeoPhoenix because I heard it was a wonderful organization," he also said. "It will be amazing if I can help with the success of the club."
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