As Thirdy Ravena makes the big jump not only to professional basketball but also to another country, he admits that nerves are getting to him.
“I’m anxious definitely about being alone in a new country. I already know I’m going to miss out on a lot of things,” he said.
However, Ravena doesn’t want to pass up on the opportunity to suit up as an Asian import for San-en NeoPhoenix in the Japan B. League.
Although his drive to do better, his love of challenges, and his competitive nature serve as his motivation, Ravena shares his career transitions have never been easy.
So as he braces for some major adjustments in Japan, the 23-year-old tries to be as ready as he can.
“I have to make sure I’m in the best possible condition that I can be so that when I’m in Japan… it’s not going to be the terrible rookie year that I’m always used to [having],” he said.
The former Ateneo star recalled how he made one of his “biggest mistakes” when he assumed he could smoothly bring his A-game in high school to college.
Back in the UAAP juniors, Ravena delivered impressive numbers in his final playing year, averaging 18.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a steal on the way to winning the season MVP.
“I was pretty confident that I would bring the game I had from high school to college which was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever committed,” he said.
Ravena admits he miscalculated several factors, including overlooking that he’s up against stronger, faster and more athletic opponents than he was used to in high school.
Then there was also the bigger crowd and more media attention.
“When you come in the game, you get more conscious. I was thinking, ‘oh I want to show off to all these people watching’ or ‘I want to make them excited to watch me play,’” he said.
Unfortunately, this kind of approach did not turn out well for the rookie. Even before the season ended, Ravena already knew he had a lot to learn.
“It just became a continuous getting used to being put in the sidelines, sometimes not even playing a couple of games,” he said. “I already knew I was not as good as I thought I was.”
In his collegiate debut, Ravena averaged merely 7.2 minutes per game and tallied a total of 15 points, 8 coming in one game. The stint devastated him and disappointed the Ateneo community.
Ravena’s underwhelming college freshman performance, though, was not the worst in his career.
Before he flourished in his third year in high school, he ranked just 96th out of 108 players in the UAAP statistical rankings in his sophomore year. He barely played then, and when he did, even made crucial mistakes.
After that season, Ravena knew he had to truly embrace basketball and take the sport seriously. He trained on his own every day at 6-9 am with older athletes, then attended their daily juniors training from noon to 6 pm.
He did this routine every single day during the summer period in the hopes of improving his game big time. Sure enough, Ravena soared all the way to the Mythical Five the following season.
When things didn’t go his way again in his rookie year in college, Ravena thought it was just another setback he needed to go through before reaching greater heights.
He was ready to double his efforts on court, but another adversity came his way as he had to sit out due to academic reasons.
That double whammy gave him a grip on reality. So armed with lessons learned from both setbacks, Ravena committed to work even harder on and off the court.
He eventually regained his playing eligibility and worked his way to becoming UAAP’s first ever three-time Finals MVP while leading Ateneo to a three-peat.
“What I did was focus on myself and how I could be the best teammate that I could possibly be to everyone in the team,” he said.
As Ravena moves on to another chapter in his career, he expects by now that things won’t always be smooth.
But whether or not there will be setbacks again, he’s committed to help his Japanese team and deliver his best in his overseas stint.
“When I’m in the game, I’ll do whatever it takes to make my teammates and my team win,” said Ravena. “Whether it’s doing defense or offense, I’m willing to do whatever.” – Rappler.com