EXPECT Thirdy Ravena to be the same athletic, selfless, and agressive player, but he seeks to play smarter and wiser for Ateneo de Manila this UAAP Season 81.
After successfully helping the Blue Eagles to win the Season 80 crown, the reigning Finals Most Valuable Player said he will do the same thing he did last year but with more polishing and improvement on his understanding of the game.
“I think it’s not much from last year kasi it’s more on finetuning everything na mga nagawa kong pagkakamali last year,” said the back-to-back UAAP Mythical 5 member, who averaged 16.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in their three-game epic Finals against rival De La Salle last season. “I need to shoot the ball better this season. I’ve been working on my shot, I’ve been working on my dribbling and play. But at the same time, I really need to learn on how I understand the game and how I see it. “
Ravena, who wound up second to De La Salle’s season MVP Ben Mbala, averaging 14.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists in last year’s elimination round, will continue to use his height, strength and athleticism against defenders.
But the high-flying small forward is looking to evolve his game by learning more on how to outsmart the foes and buying into the brilliant system of head coach Tab Baldwin, who brought the Blue Eagles to back-to-back Finals appearances in his first two years highlighted by a championship finish last season.
“Kasi as a player na nasanay na ginagamit ko ‘yung athleticism ko as my main advantage against the others, hindi ko masyadong nakikita ‘yung court I only think about how I could outlength, outspeed, outstrength my opponents rather than thinking how I could outsmart them and how I could make everything easy for me,” the 6-foot-2 winger said. “Tulad ng sinabi sa akin ni coach Tab once I buy into the system, everything’s gonna be easier. Yung mga shots na hirap ako icreate for myself na ginagawa ko madalas last year would be easier pag sumunod lang ako sa sistema.”
“I think it’s more on finetuning, it’s not really any drastic change, I mean hopefully there’s a change for the better but yeah, this season I think I’m still gonna do the same thing,” he added.
Aside from improving his knowledge of the game, Ravena also have the responsibility in leading his younger teammates as one of the seniors of this Blue Eagles team.
Ravena said that he isn’t having any hard time in guiding his teammates with the selflessness of each player and their culture in the team called ‘servanthood.’
“It’s such a great blessing for us to play with teammates who have the same goal as us, to just be selfless. They just want to help out the team in any way they can,” he said. “We have this thing in our team that we always preach it’s called ‘servanthood’ yun yung kung ano man yung gagawin namin sa laro, we do it for the team and with all the coaching staff nirereinforce nila yun sa amin every practice, every single day mas napapadali nga talaga yung buhay para sa aming mga veterans.”
The Blue Eagles had a fruitful buildup from overseas training in Greece and Taiwan and won championships in the FilOil Preseason Cup, Smart City Hoops and Smart Breakdown Basketball followed by a fourth place finish in the 2018 William Jones Cup, which makes them formidable favorites this UAAP season.
But Ravena doesn’t want those achievements to get inside their heads.
“Teams are continuously evolving alam na nila yung mga pagkakamali nila nung pre-season they developed overt ime and ngayon yun na yung tinatrabaho nila,” he said. “So we cannot be complacent na maganda yung nilaro namin, we have to continue evolving as well as a team.”
Ravena and the Blue Eagles want to continue challenging themselves, pushing themselves to their limits and take their title-retention bid one game at a time gearing up for Adamson Falcons first on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
”We welcome that, we accept the fact na people want to beat us especially now na kami yung defending champions and we understand that every single team wants to play their best against us,” he said. “But as the competitive players that we are, as the competitive team that we are, we’re always ready, we’re prepared, we have scouting and every single game, we take it one game at a time yun yung pinakaimportante sa amin as a team.“
As expectations rise and all the seven teams go after them, Ravena said that the Blue Eagles will just continue serving and playing for each other and do whatever it takes for them to win it all again.
“Well, I don’t think I expect anything tangible from my teammates. I think it’s more on the effort that they put into the game, the willingness for us to serve one another I think that’s gonna determine how we’re gonna perform this season,” he concluded.
“I think it’s more on us preparing and doing whatever we have to do, it doesn’t matter how we do it, what matters that we do it and that’s what I think our motto’s gonna be for this season: ‘To do every single thing that we can in order for us to win the game.’”