Thirdy Ravena bids to shine in Japan

Roy Luarca - Philstar.com
Thirdy Ravena bids to shine in Japan
Former Ateneo Blue Eagle Thirdy Ravena has turned pro in Japan with San-en NeoPhoenix in Japan's B. League.
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas

MANILA, Philippines – He never became a UAAP Most Valuable Player awardee, but Thirdy Ravena owns a distinction even more prestigious these days.

True to his first name, Thirdy became the only player in UAAP history to bag three straight Finals MVP awards as he powered the Ateneo Blue Eagles to three straight basketball titles.

While the season MVP used to be the league's most coveted, it no longer rings long. The presence of mastodon foreign reinforcements has made it improbable for homegrown talents like Thirdy to capture the honor.

Look at the MVP list in the last five years.

La Salle's Ben Mbala of Cameroon clinched it back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, Nigerian Bright Akhuetie of University of the Philippines won it in 2018, and Beninese Soulemani Chabi Yo of University of Santo Tomas wrested it in 2019.

And yet Ateneo, mainly because of Thirdy, was the champion since 2017.

The 6-foot-2  1/2 Thirdy skipped the PBA draft and will be suiting up for San-en Neo Phoenix in the Japan B.League, the first Filipino to do so.

On October 3, Thirdy will make his debut as an Asian import when the eastern Mikawa, Aichi and Shizuoka Prefecture team hosts the Chiba Jets at the Toyohashi City General Gymnasium.

Playing under the shadow of older brother and fellow Bue Eagle Kiefer, who was the last pure local to become UAAP MVP in 2014 and 2015, Thirdy's stock further dipped when he missed UAAP Season 78 due to academic deficiency.

Thirdy returned, changed his jersey number to "0" and rebounded in Season 79, although Ateneo lost to Mbala-powered La Salle in the Finals.

Thirdy further improved in Season 80 with averages of 14.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists as Ateneo exacted vengeance on La Salle.

It was in Season 81 when Thirdy fully blossomed with averages of 29.5 points, 8 rebounds and 7.5 assists as Ateneo beat UP despite Akhuetie's presence.

In his last year, Thirdy averaged 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assist as the Blue Eagles soared with a 16-0 sweep of the elimination round before trouncing the Yo-led UST Growling Tigers twice, 91-77 and 86-79, in the Season 82 Finals.

Ravena’s three Finals MVP eclipsed the two MVPs bagged by Arwind Santos of Far Eastern Univeristy in 2003 and 2005, Nico Salva of Ateneo in 2011 and 2012, and Jeron Teng of La Salle in 2013 and 2016.

Having freed himself from the knot of Kiefer and father Bong, also a former national team and PBA player, Thirdy wants to carve another niche in local basketball annals.

The first Filipino cager to rise in the land of the Rising Sun.



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