MANILA, Philippines – Trying to make a name for himself while living in the shadows of his father Bong and, more significantly, elder brother Kiefer has been a challenge for Thirdy Ravena since he was old enough to play competitive basketball. But his performance in the last two years in the UAAP has him closing in on a record.
If Thirdy and Ateneo win a second straight UAAP senior’s division title in Season 81, that will tie the youngest of the Ravena boys with his big bro in terms of championships won with the Blue Eagles at two.
“It’s always a great feeling to get one up over my brother, especially with how competitive we are in the family, inside the household," said Thirdy. "It’s a good feeling but it’s also motivation for me to help my team and do whatever I can to be better.
“And also that, as a bonus, diba? So, why not?”
Thirdy was also named Finals MVP in Ateneo’s Season 80 championship run, which is something even Kiefer didn’t accomplish in the collegiate level. Of course, the elder Ravena brother did win league MVP in his final two college seasons, but with Thirdy about to enter only the fourth of his five playing eligibility years, he has the opportunity to do the same.
Thirdy has already come close after earning a Mythical 5 spot in 2016 and 2017 and coming second in the MVP race to Ben Mbala last year. With Big Ben moving on to the pros and Ateneo as the favorite to top the league standings, it’s safe to assume Thirdy is the favorite to win the coveted individual award.
However, don’t expect him to put that atop his priority list.
“I think I see myself better than who I was a year ago, but that Finals MVP didn’t do anything. I think it’s more on the fact na it just reinforced na mas kailangan ko pa sundan yung system, cause that’s what I’ve been doing,” he told Rappler.
(I need to follow the system some more.)
Despite Ateneo’s impressive offseason which included an undefeated march to the Filoil preseason title and representing the Philippines in the William Jones Cup, head coach Tab Baldwin is keeping his Eagles grounded amidst talk of Ateneo potentially going undefeated in the UAAP or easily winning the league title. (WATCH: Ateneo Blue Eagles remain grounded amid the hype)
On a scale of 0-10, Baldwin ranked his team as No. 2 when asked where they were in terms of preparation for the season.
Ravena gave his team more credit, but did point out that they still have work to do before beginning their campaign against Adamson on Sunday, September 9.
“What Coach Tab just said, I would rate us at about a 7 as a team na prepared, cause we came from the preseason – it was pretty good – we were able to play as a team and play our system but I don’t think we were able to play as well as expected ourselves to play,” he said.
“There’s still a whole lot to work on, even if it looks like we’re playing well.”
Thirdy also isn’t buying into the notion that the Eagles can cruise to another UAAP title.
“To be honest, past is past. We’ve also heard a lot of rumors or people talking about how these teams are going to win the finals for sure, or how these teams are going to go undefeated. History will tell you that it’s really not set until it’s there, so we still have to prepare. We can’t let that get to our heads. I think that’s the biggest part with all the noise coming in from social media and from the people in the community.”
After all, Baldwin expressed it best to his boys:
“Coach Tab said, ‘it’s going to be harder to defend a title than to earn it.’’’ – Rappler.com