MANILA, Philippines – Thirdy Ravena shone the brightest on a Gilas Pilipinas team bannered by pro players, but coach Mark Dickel was not one bit surprised.
Ravena torched Indonesia on both ends with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks as Gilas Pilipinas opened the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers with a rousing 100-70 road win on Sunday, February 23.
Coming off the bench for Dickel, Ravena provided the boost the Filipinos sorely needed against the pesky Indonesians and finished with a staggering plus-minus of +27 in the lopsided victory.
"Not surprised," Dickel said of Ravena through a text message. "I work him out most mornings at Ateneo. He has been really well-coached by Tab (Baldwin) and the other coaches at Ateneo."
Ravena scored 10 points in the first half before pouring in 13 points in a third-quarter pullaway that saw Gilas Pilipinas turn a 55-51 lead to a comfortable 67-53 advantage heading into the last period.
He delivered 5 straight points to give the Philippines a 62-51 lead in what proved to be the turning point of the game as Indonesia never came close again.
"Thirdy was great," said Dickel. "He has a chance to be really good."
Dickel also lauded his other wards.
"All of the young guys represented and played well. We, for the most part, played defense the way we wanted to," Dickel said. "All of the PBA players were great and led the new players on the team."
Gilas Pilipinas still has to face Thailand for the first window after their February 20 match was postponed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, while the second window is slated in November.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.