MANILA, Philippines—Mozzy Ravena was in a sentimental mood on Wednesday, after watching her son wrap up his collegiate basketball career in the best way possible.
She was among the more than 20,000 fans at Mall of Asia Arena who saw the Ateneo Blue Eagles complete their march to history. The Blue Eagles fended off a gutsy University of Santo Tomas team in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 82 finals to secure their third straight crown, as well as a perfect 16-0 season.
Her youngest son, Thirdy, was hailed one of the heroes of the Blue Eagles' title conquest once again. He earned finals MVP honors for a third consecutive season, an unprecedented individual feat.
"Sobrang (saya)," Mozzy told ABS-CBN News, moments after the final buzzer. "Kasi, nag-champion si Thirdy, nag-sweep. Grabe, what a way to end his career."
Thirdy's collegiate finale is all the more meaningful for Mozzy because of the journey her son took to get there.
While his older brother, Kiefer, was a star for Ateneo almost immediately, Thirdy's path to becoming a standout featured twists and turns, including a detour that saw him skip UAAP Season 78 for academic deficiencies.
"Imagine mo ang pinagdaanan niya," says Mozzy, as she watched her son celebrate with his "band of brothers" on the MoA Arena court. "Napakahirap talaga."
Thirdy made a triumphant return in Season 79, earning Mythical Team honors and helping Ateneo reach the finals. The next three years saw him rack up accolade after accolade, while the Blue Eagles experienced tremendous success on the court.
Thirdy never won a season MVP trophy, but he is widely acknowledged as one of the best collegiate players in the Philippines. And in the eyes of his older brother, there can be no doubt: Kiefer proclaimed on Instagram that in Season 82, Thirdy "showed everybody why you are the best collegiate player in the country . . . you carried yourself like the MVP that you really are."
For Mozzy, the scene she witnessed on Wednesday — with Thirdy being showered with applause and cheers while he held his arms out, as if to embrace the entirety of the Ateneo gallery — has made everything worth it.
"God's gift talaga sa kaniya 'to," she said.
It is a finale not just for Thirdy, but for the entire Ravena family. When Season 83 tips off in 2020, it marks the first time that Mozzy and Bong Ravena won't have a son competing for the Blue and White in a decade.
Kiefer, after all, first made a name for himself in their high school team in 2009, before going on to lead the Blue Eaglets to three straight crowns from Seasons 71 to 73 and jumping to the seniors division and having a glittering career there, too.
Thirdy, for his part, won MVP honors for the Blue Eaglets in 2013 before joining his older brother with the seniors team next year.
"Thankful ako sa lahat. Sa Ateneo community, sa UAAP, oh my god, ilang taon. Dekada ang nandito kami, so I will really miss it," Mozzy said.
It won't be a goodbye to the UAAP as a whole; after all, their daughter, Dani, still competes for the Lady Eagles in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament, and will be looking to help them defend their crown next year.
But Mozzy could not help but be a little sentimental as she pondered her family's exit from UAAP basketball.
"Siyempre, 'yung basketball, ang tagal namin," she said. "Parang part na siya ng life mo, tapos biglang wala."
"Makikihingi na lang ako ng tickets," she added with a laugh.
Mozzy is now looking forward to seeing both her sons compete in the PBA. Kiefer is already there, a star for the NLEX Road Warriors, while the family patriarch, Bong, coaches TNT. Thirdy is generally considered one of the top prospects in the draft, and his name should be among the first called out on Dec. 8.
"Isa pa 'yun," says Mozzy. "Mahirap na naman ang scheduling."
Indeed, she was the only member of the family who watched Thirdy complete his collegiate career. Kiefer had a game on the same day, at the same time; Mozzy was watching via livestream even as Ateneo played UST. TNT played a game later in the night; Dani had her academic responsibilities in Ateneo.
Mozzy is not complaining, however.
"It's another blessing altogether," she beams.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.