Fresh from PCCL semis, Thirdy Ravena heads straight to Gilas practice

Fresh from a game, Thirdy Ravena went straight to Gilas practice. Zack Bulatao
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Thirdy Ravena had to deal with playing extended minutes for undermanned Ateneo in Game 2 of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League semifinals against San Beda at the Ynares Sports Arena.

[Related Story: Ateneo sends PCCL semis vs San Beda to Game 3]

But barely two hours after the game, Ravena was seen practicing with Gilas Pilipinas at the Meralco Gym, just at the other end of Meralco Avenue.

[Related Story: Thirdy Ravena makes quick appearance in Gilas practice after late call-up]

For the Gilas Cadet, the lone member of the "23 for '23" pool called up to the Gilas pool for the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, he just can't pass the chance.

"Sinabihan ako na pumunta dito, so I have to show up kasi it's the national team and it's my responsibility to respond to that call of service," Ravena said.

The six-foot-two winger is slated to replace either Troy Rosario or Raymond Almazan in the pool that will make the trip to Qatar and Kazakhstan for the do-or-die sixth window assuming both players will not be cleared due to their respective injuries.

But for Ravena, attending the practice alone is already a dream-come-true.

"It's something that I dreamed of. I didn't really expect it. But pag nandyan yung opportunity na di naman dumarating sa lahat eh, you just have to be ready," he further said. "Nandito na rin ako, so might as well go for it."

Being the only collegiate player in the pool then fully consisting of Philippine Basketball Association stars, Ravena gets an opportunity to learn from the pros.

"It means a lot especially sa experience na makukuha ko not just by playing but by being around with this guys. It's a lot of experience. It's a great opportunity for me as a player kasi it doesn't come very often--yung mga ganitong klaseng chance na makasama mo this special group of guys and of course the coaching staff. Ang dami kong matututunan especially internationally," he continued. "It's a great feeling and a great opportunity to be with great players."

He added, "As a young player, I still have to learn and improve, and despite going through practice with these guys--makikita nyo na medyo relaxed lang yung practice; di gaanong ka-intense--ang dami ko pa ring natutunan about precision, timing, angle--what are essentially the most important part of the game."

Now, Ravena looks to give his best in training to earn a spot to the "Final 12".

"Kailangan kong mag-step up and do whatever it takes to get Coach Yeng and the entire coaching staff's trust kasi malaking responsibility yung magre-represent ka ng bansa mo especially ngayon sa men's division na," he vowed. "I'll try to do whatever it takes to make it kasi pangarap ko ito."

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