FOREIGN is it for Thirdy Ravena to be by his lonesome once he goes to Japan, it won't be the first time his resolve will be tested.
After all, he will always carry the lessons he learned from his "lost year" wherever he goes with his basketball career.
"It was more of mental yung battle doon sa year na yun," the 23-year-old high-flyer told The Prospects Pod.
"Yung sa mental, it's really to keep myself motivated na kahit mag-isa lang talaga ako na nag-training and di ako makalaro. Yung team practice, kahit anong gawin mo hindi kayang bawiin ng pickup game yun eh. Yung fact na wala akong practice for a year, ang laking bagay din yun sa akin mentally. Yun ang mga naiisip ko."
Ravena saw what was supposed to be his second year as a Blue Eagle shelved due to academic issues, robbing him of a chance to play side-by-side with his brother Kiefer, who was already on his final year in Ateneo, back in 2015.
Kiefer still vividly remembers the moment he knew Thirdy won't be able to suit up with him for his fifth season.
"Kami ng mom ko, papunta kami sa commercial shoot sa Smart. On the way there, nasa Makati na kami, tumatawag si Thirdy tapos parang naririnig ko rin na parang umiiyak nga siya. Sabi ko, 'Bakit kaya umiiyak 'to? Ano kaya nangyari?' So sinasabi ko sa sarili ko, baka may na-injure or something like that," he said. "Pero nung tumawag siya sa mom ko, sabi niya hindi daw siya makakalaro next year kasi bumagsak nga siya and he was really crying and telling my mom, 'Ma, I didn’t make it. What are we going to do?' And then yung mom ko naman, parang sabi, 'Oh talaga? Oh, sige sige.' Reactions lang yung nakikita ko sa kanya."
"Pagkahatid sa amin, sinabi ng mom ko na kailangan niyang umuwi, kailangan niyang umalis kaagad, at pinuntahan niya si Thirdy. That’s when I kinda found out na it was really bad, the situation is really bad."
Thirdy's presence would've come in handy in that UAAP Season 78 drive where Ateneo bowed to Far Eastern University courtesy of a heart-breaking Mac Belo putback in the Final Four.
Kiefer, however, holds no regrets.
"Hindi naman ako nagalit sa kanya. I'm more of nalungkot kasi nasayang eh, sayang yung taon and yung chance na makakapaglaro kami together din," he said.
To Kiefer, that "lost year" even worked out better for his younger brother as Thirdy became a three-time UAAP champion and a three-time Finals MVP.
"Ngayon naman kung titignan mo, parang wala ka rin naman dapat ikalungkot kasi nakita mo din naman talaga what happened to his career eh. Parang blessing in disguise pa," the NLEX guard said.
"The bigger picture na nakatulong pa sa kanya yung ganoon, it was never a sad feeling. Bakit ka malulungkot sa progress, lalo na kapatid mo pa? When you sit out a year in college, not everyone gets to improve the way he did and it showed the last remaining years ng collegiate career niya."
And for Thirdy, it proves that everything he has done is all worth it, especially as he embarks on a path less taken with San-En NeoPhoenix.
"Ang laking tulong and motivation for me nun to just keep working kasi gumagana nga yung mga ginagawa ko," he said.