MANILA, Philippines -- Thirdy Ravena may be leaving his family and friends in the Philippines when he heads to Japan to play in the B.League, but the advice they have given him will stay in his mind and heart.
The former Ateneo de Manila University standout is the first Filipino to play as an import in the B.League, after signing with the San-En NeoPhoenix, a first division team.
En route to making Philippine basketball history, Ravena was guided by his family and his collegiate coach, Tab Baldwin, who all stressed the significance of what he was doing.
"Growing up, my brother's always been one of my biggest inspirations," Ravena said, referring to his older brother, Kiefer. "I always seek his advice, and luckily for me, he never stops giving me advice."
Kiefer's message to Thirdy was simple -- to play his game, and to remember what he is representing.
"I'm not just representing myself," the younger Ravena said. "I bring the Philippines with me when I play in Japan."
Their father, TNT head coach Bong Ravena, also imparted a message for Thirdy.
"He was very simple with his advice," Thirdy said of his dad. "He told me to play smart, play hard, and make sure I play like an import."
Ravena also received plenty of words of wisdom from Baldwin, who steered the Blue Eagles to three consecutive UAAP men's basketball titles. It was Baldwin whom Ravena credited with his improvement since he took over as head coach of Ateneo in Season 79, the same year that Ravena returned after a one-year sabbatical due to academic deficiencies.
According to Ravena, Baldwin has been in his ear since the end of Season 81, as the Kiwi-American coach was aware of his plans for the future.
"(I got) a lot of advice from his end, and honestly, I wouldn't know where I would be without him," Ravena admitted. "Coach Tab, he was very honest with me."
"He told me what my mistakes where, and his advice, and I only got better when he said that," he added.
Much like Kiefer, Baldwin also wanted Thirdy to understand that he was blazing a trail by deciding to play in Japan, instead of declaring for the PBA Draft once his collegiate career was over.
"His advice to me is just to represent," Ravena said. "You realize you're bringing Filipinos with you where you're going."
"Just make sure you do your job really well, and represent the organization. It's one that stuck with me, and one that I will be thinking about in Japan," he added.
While he knows that there are plenty of expectations for him -- from his new team, from Filipino fans, and from his own family and friends -- Ravena said they can't be higher than what he expects from himself.
"I'm coming in there as an import," he said. "I also have to take note of that all the time, that I'm coming there as an import."
"So there's definitely expectation, not just from the management and the people who are watching, but I'm also expecting a lot from myself as well," Ravena said. "(I'm) expecting more than what I expected from myself during the UAAP, during my UAAP stint."
"It's another challenge (for me)."
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