Thirdy Ravena is now known as the Pinoy pioneer for the San-en NeoPhoenix of the Japan B. League, and is being praised for paving the way for his other compatriots to join him and hone their craft.
However, as most pioneering endeavors go in any field, Ravena’s debut year was a bittersweet mix of breakthroughs and barriers, as he was forced to sit out a majority of his team’s games due to untimely injuries topped by a bout with COVID-19.
Now in his second season in the overseas pro league, the 24-year-old star prospect is relieved that his long voyage with San-en has finally hit calm waters as seven other Filipinos join the B. League crew.
“I just felt like I wasn’t as helpful last season because of all the injuries, COVID, and all of that, so this season hopefully, we all stay injury-free, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season for this team,” he said in a special press conference with his brother Kiefer of the Shiga Lakestars.
When asked about finally having a real off-season to jell with the NeoPhoenix, who signed him to a multi-year extension, the younger Ravena is nothing but grateful for the new opportunity, and is now raring to make up for lost time.
“[It’s] definitely very important, also because of the trust that the team has given me, and the belief of the whole organization in re-signing me this year. I just really want to show everyone, to the boosters, to every Filipino that we can make an impact,” he said.
“Personally I will do whatever it takes to win, help my teammates. It doesn’t matter if it’s scoring or passing the ball, whatever role they give me, but I really want to just help them.”
Sure enough, he really did whatever it took to help San-en to its first win of the season against no less than kuya Kiefer’s Shiga in the second game of a thrilling back-to-back set.
After suffering a 22-point meltdown loss in their first meeting, the younger Ravena regrouped, and erupted for 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists on 3-of-6 shooting from three in a 101-96 overtime revenge the very next day.
With 58 games left on the calendar, he is hoping that the chemistry he got in the off-season with his team will carry over to more wins as the year moves along.
“That’s the thing about our team, I feel like it is such a unit, regardless if it’s an import or a Japanese, off the court, the chemistry is really good,” Ravena said.
“Everyone in the team, we have a really good bonding. I hope it translates to the game even more when we play.”