With a supernova showing in the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball finals, it’s easy to forget that Thirdy Ravena went through a few bumps early on in his college-varsity days as an Ateneo Blue Eagle.
Struggles should be expected by anybody moving up to a different league and finding one’s place in an unfamiliar system, but Ravena dug in his heels, went “Mamba” mode, and made good on his promise to become an elite player.
“Once you start believing in yourself and what you can do and, more importantly, when you put in the work, when you work harder than everyone else, the possibilities are just gonna be endless for you,” Ravena said in an interview with ABS-CBN News on Wednesday.
The finals MVP was candid throughout the Q&A, where he gamely shared his thoughts on trash-talking fans, dunking in games, and the reason why he wears “zero” on his jersey.
Toughest player to guard?
Probably (UST player) CJ Cansino this season, but UAAP all time Jeron (Teng). (Cansino) is fast, very fast. He always likes bringing the ball down quick in transition, even on a made basket. ’Pag in-inbound, he wants to go fast. Especially if you’re the one making the play offensively, you always have to look for him. Right after you take that shot, you already know that he’s somewhere out there trying to bring the ball down really fast. That’s what makes him so hard to guard.
Toughest player who covered you?
I think it’s (Simon) Camacho of Adamson. Very versatile, very fast and physical player. Para siyang magnet, kung saan ka nandu’n lang siya lagi even if nasa weak side siya. Kumbaga he’s married to me. Ang hirap talaga maghanap ng paraan how to get free especially with players like that.
Sweeter championship — Season 80 versus La Salle, or Season 81 versus UP?
They’re both sweet in their own right. Last year, it was sweet because, No. 1, we faced La Salle. It was a hard-earned championship na talagang 2 years in the making. (2016), we didn’t win the championship but we were also in the finals against La Salle. And finally winning it (in 2017) was the best thing ever.
With UP, this time we defended the championship for the first time. Just to see how everything happened to us this year, not just in the UAAP, but with the Jones Cup, we played in Greece, we’ve come a really long way. So, just to win it for the community and for each other, it’s really sweet.
Playing against UP, it’s also different. To be able to assert a certain dominance especially in Game 2 is also a great feeling in terms of winning a championship, in terms of that particular way, not just a close game but also kind of telling people na, ‘We’re the defending champions, and we’re here to stay.’
First time you dunked in a game?
I think that was Adamson in my third year in high school, my junior year. I did a reverse, one-legged dunk. It was a great feeling na finally in-game I was able to do it. To be able to finally do it for the first time, it was kind of like euphoria na sobrang tuwa mo lang. That feeling is addicting, parang ‘Shucks, when can I dunk next?’ Parang ganu’n iyong feeling, parang you want to get that feeling (back). That’s what started it.
Favorite dunk of the season?
Probably the putback against UP, the clean putback na I really can’t believe that just happened. Those things really don’t happen even sa practices. Sometimes in practice, I get dunking opportunities but not like that na putback, na clean. I think, yeah, that’s the best dunk for me this season.
What is the story behind wearing No. 0?
I chose zero because when they allowed finally it in the UAAP — from zero to 99 — that’s really the amount of people who can stop me from chasing my dreams.
People tell you all these sorts of things na . . . ilalagay mo iyong sarili mo sa isang box, that would confine you in that particular box thinking you can’t do anything better than that. But once you start believing in yourself and what you can do and, more importantly, when you put in the work, when you work harder than everyone else, the possibilities are just gonna be endless for you. That’s how I like to think, and that’s how Kobe thought. Kobe Bryant is my idol. Anything is possible as long as you put in the work.
Even though you don’t get to where you want to be, when you know you’ve done the work, you’re not going to regret anything. You’re na gonna say na, ‘I wish I worked harder, I wish I went to the gym instead of going out with my friends.’ You get happier when you know you laid it all on the line, na binigay mo lahat no matter what the outcome is.
Funniest trash talk you’ve heard from opposing fans?
I guess the cusses and, ‘Ravena, ang pangit mo!’ Iyong ganu’n. We’re playing basketball, how’s that going to hurt me? I don’t know. People just do whatever it takes to get you off your game and I’m used to it.
The coaching staff, they do a really good job telling us na those things really happen, na people will really do anything to get whatever edge they can in order to get you off your game. If you let that get into you, then that’s your problem because you think about yourself, and you don’t think about the team. How I counter those things? I just focus on the team and what I have to do. To be honest, they really don’t affect me.
Besides basketball, what other activity do you and Kiefer engage in together?
Golf, I think that’s the No. 1 thing we do. Not as often as my brother and dad. They have more free time so they play, but whenever I can I make sure I do. I really don’t let those things pass because I know that’s our bonding experience din as boys of the family. It’s also our way of catching up with each other ’coz you don’t really see each other every single day, everyone’s busy, everyone has training. Moments like that really hold a lot of value in terms of family relationships so I just make sure I go whenever I can.
It’s really very boring. The night before the games, I watch the scouting report of the teams. I watch their games. I make sure I hydrate. In the morning, I listen to really pump-up music, hip-hop, more on that stuff. Pero ’pag papalapit na ’yung game, I really listen to acoustic songs, love songs, Ed Sheeran mga ganu’n, because it calms me down. The vibe is just really calming.
Also I drink an iced venti Americano with no water brevé with white mocha. You can call it an iced barista drink. That’s every game and it has 4 shots of espresso inside it. It keeps me awake, that’s No. 1, because I get sleepy before the game. ’Coz when I try to visualize and just relax, my body falls asleep also in the process and I just need something to wake me up that’s why I drink coffee. I drink half of that drink before the game and I’m good.
Which one would you want to see first — “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse” or “Aquaman”?
Spiderman. First off, I’ve been a Spiderman fan. I actually lost in the raffle of the Jordan 1s that came out today. I just finished playing Spiderman 3. I’m not really familiar with Aquaman.
Any of Spiderman’s characteristics that you see in yourself?
I think the desire. He really wants New York to be safe. I want to be the best basketball player that I can be, but in terms of desire, I think we want it both really bad. I think that’s the biggest similarity between us.
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