MANILA, Philippines – For the first time in Ateneo history, certain jersey numbers can no longer be worn by future generations of basketball players.
In an unprecedented ceremony on Wednesday, February 19, the Ateneo grade school administration retired the jerseys of three-time UAAP seniors champions Thirdy Ravena, Mike Nieto and Matt Nieto at the Ateneo Grade School gym.
In front of standout Ateneo grade school athletes who were about to be awarded championship titles in various sports, the young Gilas Pilipinas trio preached the value of hard work and discipline even in the face of failure.
Various teachers and coaches also relieved fun times with Ravena and the Nietos during the Parangal sa Atleta program, much to the joy of the players and the parents in attendance.
"Actually, I'm speechless," Matt said after the program. "Kami naman ni Mike, we always wanted to leave a mark sa Ateneo with something na maalala kami.”
“Lahat ng sacrifice namin, lahat ng paghihirap namin sa Ateneo, buti naman ngayon nabawi na kasi first ever retirement ng jersey namin nina Thirdy at ni Mike and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
(Mike and I always wanted to leave a mark in Ateneo with something that people would remember us for. With all our sacrifices, all the hard times we had in Ateneo, thankfully, we’re reaping the rewards with the first-ever retirement jersey with Thirdy and Mike. I couldn’t ask for anything more.)
“Kami ni Matt ever since prep talaga, sinabi namin sa tumanggap sa amin dito na as much as possible na sa lahat ng sinalihan namin mula grade school hanggang college, ipapa-champion namin,” Mike chimed in. “Ayun din yung promise ni daddy [Jet] kay Fr Holsier, yung pari na tumanggap sa amin.
“‘The twins will bring back the glory to Ateneo.’ From then on, the rest is history.”
(Matt and I, ever since prep, we said to those who welcomed us that we’d win championships in every possible event we’d join from grade school to college. That’s also daddy’s promise to Fr Holsier, the priest who brought us in.)
Indeed, the Nietos and Ravena wrote their success stories perfectly, as they rose from unassuming underdogs to pioneering stars in the newest generation of Gilas Pilipinas. All of these recent successes, however, would not have been possible had Ateneo not nurtured their growth, through thick and thin.
Even though a new world awaits them outside the classroom walls in Katipunan, they never forgot, and will never forget, to look back.
“Hindi namin sila nakakalimutan,” Matt said. “Babalik at babalik pa rin.”
(We won’t forget them. We’ll always come back.)