By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
RECENTLY inked a one-season deal to play in the B. League in Japan, collegiate standout and national team player Thirdy Ravena said he is looking forward to the new journey he is about to take along with the challenges that await him there.
Set to play for the San-en NeoPhoenix team in the B. League, former Ateneo Blue Eagles stalwart Ravena shared he is ready to get out of his comfort zone and immerse in the hoops league in the “Land of the Rising Sun” as well as in the country itself.
Mr. Ravena was formally introduced by the team in an online press conference on Friday.
“To be honest, I really like Japan because it has a beautiful history and culture,” said Mr. Ravena, 23, in his guesting on Tiebreaker Vods’ The Prospects Pod later on.
He went on to say that Japan being not so far from the Philippines also played a role in him choosing to play there as his family can easily join him, especially when homesickness kicks in.
Apart from Japan, Mr. Ravena, who helped Ateneo to three straight University Athletic Association of the Philippines titles in his final three years where he was also named finals most valuable player each time, reportedly also had offers to play in leagues in Australia and New Zealand.
In playing in the B. League, Mr. Ravena, son of former Philippine Basketball Association player Bong, and brother to current PBA star Kiefer, is set to make history as the first player to be signed in the league under the “Asian Player Quotas” system to be implemented by the B. League in the 2020–21 season.
The Asian Player Quotas system is designed to “enhance competitive abilities by matching with various Asian players” as well as stretching the reach of the B. League to other countries.
With San-En NeoPhoenix, he is to join a team that struggled last season, finishing with a 5-36 record, something that Mr. Ravena said he does not really mind since he is coming into a situation he feels he can flourish in.
“We chose San-En because it’s a great organization and the people are kind and warm, including its president. We knew their standing last season was not really the best but it can work to our advantage since there would not be a lot of expectations but many things to gain for the team,” Mr. Ravena said.
“I feel I fit there and I can have more playing time to improve myself as a player,” he added.
Another thing that has Mr. Ravena excited to play in Japan is the chance to attract a considerable number of Filipino fans based there to San-En and the B. League.
“It feels great to bring a ready fan base to our team and we know how Filipino basketball fans are. I can’t wait to play for them,” he said.
But despite his commitment to the B. League, Mr. Ravena assured that he still intends to play for the Philippine team when called up.
“Definitely I’ll still play. What is important is the scheduling and for both parties to agree. If there is no conflict I’ll go and play for the national team.”
The B. League plans to open the new season in October but is still dependent on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic situation by that time.