MANILA, Philippines -- Rain or Shine and Gilas Pilipinas veteran Gabe Norwood has high hopes for Thirdy Ravena when he plays for San-En NeoPhoenix in Japan's B.League later this year.
Ravena made history for Philippine basketball last week when he became the first Filipino to sign as an Asian import with the B.League. His signing was made possible by the league's Asian player quota rule, which was implemented this season.
In an interview aired on the FIBA Asia Cup Instagram page, Norwood expressed his excitement for the young Ravena as he takes the next step in his basketball journey.
"Thirdy is a great representative of that for the country," Norwood said. "He's a young talent, a guy who's been with us in the window when we played and played in Qatar."
"He put on a show," he added.
Ravena was included in the Gilas Pilipinas roster for the last window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, and saw some minutes against Qatar and Kazakhstan.
His rejection of Nasser Khalifa Al-Rayes in the final minute of their game against Qatar drew oohs and aahs, even if he was called for a foul.
Norwood believes that Ravena's move is just the start, and other Filipino players can follow in his footsteps.
"That's a huge opportunity, just in terms of expanding the game," he said of the B.League's Asian player quota system. "You're really getting exposure from players all throughout Asia."
"I think it opens a lot of doors," he added.
Ravena, for his part, knows that he will be playing for more than himself when he steps on the court in Japan.
"I'm carrying the flag and country with me when I go to Japan. So I'm representing the Philippines as well," he said in a recent interview with Dyan Castillejo of ABS-cBN News.
"They're not gonna see me as Thirdy Ravena but you know, the guy from the Philippines," he added. "Pero I'll try my best, I'll do my best to represent the country the best way that I can."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).