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Thirdy lists Fadi, Jamshidi, and Guo Ailun as FIBA Asia Cup rivals he'd want to face
MANILA (Philippines) - Thirdy Ravena, rising star of the Philippines national team, has been taking this time off amid the COVID-19 situation to better himself in different areas. In between taking up yoga and reading new books like "Smarter Faster Better" by Charles Duhigg, he took the time to talk with FIBA Asia Cup live on Instagram concerning several topics from his experiences playing on the national team to his Asia Cup dream team.
"I would do a yoga demo, but I would embarrass myself," Thirdy joked. "I'm just at the beginning stage."
Thirdy shined at the first window of the Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers, recording 23 points and 8 rebounds in a win over Indonesia. In that game, he teamed up with his brother, Kiefer, on a highlight fastbreak alley-oop play. It turns out the sibling duo had been connecting for plays like that ever since way back. Thirdy also talked about how tough his brother is with him, which has made him more competitive and how he's always been an inspiration.
"He always gives me a chance, especially when he has the ball. He always makes sure that I get opportunities," said Thirdy, recalling to the first basket he scored playing collegiately in the Philippines on a pass from Kiefer.
"I think it was more of a connection," Thirdy added about the recent alley-oop play. "I know that he's going to try to set me up when we're both on the court."
"When you when you look [at the play] again, it was actually Abu Tratter that was free, but he still passed the alleyoop to me," Thirdy said with a laugh. "I just know that he's going to try to give me the opportunities and just try to make sure that we stay connected."
Though the younger Ravena came on to the scene later than his brother, he's quickly climbed the ranks and is now one of the most promising prospects in the country. The 23-year-old made his senior national team debut back in early 2019 during the last window of the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers and seems to be a large part of the team moving forward.
"I mean it was a great feeling," Thirdy said of his Gilas debut. "It was the first time that it's ever happened, at least during that time, that a collegiate player made the men's national team in the Philippines. But just representing, it's such as surreal feeling when you're outside of the country."
"Especially when you sing the national anthem, it's a really big thing for me before the game. So just being part of the team is such a great feeling for me. It's such a blessing."
Being on that team, Thirdy played and spent valuable time with familiar faces like Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee, and Jayson Castro. He was expecting some hazing from the vets but was surprised when it never came.
"Coming in as a rookie, especially from someone in college that's never been to the PBA, I thought that I was going to get the rookie initiation or the rookie treatment," Thirdy admitted. "But it never happened. From the moment I was in the team, I thought they really welcomed me and made me feel like I belonged. It was kind of surprising, honestly, but it's such a great group of guys. Very experienced players. All those vets that have been representing the country for quite a while now, retelling their stories all throughout. It's pretty amazing."
"I'm literally a kid in the team listening to their stories and I'm just being entertained by how crazy about how their experiences have been."
Thirdy also listed national team players like Norwood, Kiefer, Jimmy Alapag, and roommate Roger Pogoy as guys who have handed him key pieces of advice.
"Just play your game," said Thirdy of the advice he was given that he takes to heart. "They told me that you don't have to do anything special with the national team. Do your part because that's what everyone is going to do, and that's how it's going to help out the team. So however small your role is, if you do it well, you're going to help the team well whether it's in practice or whether it's in the game. That's what I really just strive to do and it's paid off, I guess."
There seems to be a long road up ahead for Thirdy with the national team. As he continues to rise and shine, he'll get his chances against the best of the best in the Asia Cup and other competitions. Right now, he has his eyes on one matchup in particular.
"Guo Ailun," Thirdy quickly replied. "I've seen him play and I always wanted to see what it's like to play against him because I've seen a lot of his highlights and a lot of his game film. He's probably the only player that I look forward to playing with the most."
The Filipino guard knows of how dangerous Guo is and talked about the importance of matching China's star guard in speed in his dream matchup.
"He's very explosive. He likes driving strong to the basket. He's going to look to penetrate, so just try to guard that."
Aside from Guo, Thirdy also talked about other Asia Cup players that he might have wanted to match up in their primes like Fadi El Khatib and Mohammad Jamshidi. Thirdy admits that he needs to catch up a bit on the history of Asia Cup basketball, but didn't shy away from listing a starting five for the #TeamThirdy Asia Cup all-stars.
"I don't know if I would put Yi Jianlian or Hamed Haddadi at the five," he started. "Probably, Yi Jianlian."
"I'd put Ricardo Ratliffe [or Ra Guna] at the four, just because he is an unstoppable force."
"At the three, probably Rui Hachimura from Japan. At the two, Mohammad Jamshidi."
The youngster struggled a bit at the point guard spot between his two idols "Kuya Jayson [Castro]" and "Kuya Jimmy [Alapag]" before arriving with a final decision to round out his team.
"[I'd pick] Jimmy just because he's a leader, I think he's going to run the team well but they're both pretty good."
With this solid starting five, Thirdy was happy to accept a bench role on the team as opposed to being on the other side of the court.
"Oh, I'd definitely be a bench player," he said with a laugh. "I'll just stay on the bench and give them water and everything they need. I'll be fine with that!"
It was a busy week for Philippines basketball with the announcement of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 schedule from August 25 to September 10. During the chat, Thirdy was able to share how he felt about the potential opportunity.
"Definitely a great feeling, even greater because it's in our own country," Thirdy said of World Cup 2023. "I think the Filipinos will get to go out and really support us during the games. Just thinking about it makes me so excited for the future and just makes me want to work out on everything that I could possibly need in my game so I can be prepared for when it comes.
"I know that it's going to be really tough, but it's going to make it even more challenging and fun. I can't wait for that to happen in the next 3 years."
Another big topic in the Philippines basketball circle was rising prospect Kai Sotto's announcement of heading to the NBA GLeague. As another player who has been consistently featured early in his career, Thirdy shared what sort of advice he might have for the kid he's seen ever since he was very young.
"Keep working," Ravena said.
"I've seen Kai ever since he was like 13-14. I've seen his development as a player. Coming in, he was just a happy-go-lucky person. Having fun in practice and chilling for a little bit. But throughout the years, I've seen him work and work and work. Seeing how he works now, seeing all his videos and all his workouts, really made me so proud of Kai for his development. Not just for him as a player but as a person as well. Really changed his character, really just striving to be the best version that he could possibly be every single day."
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"I know that it's going to pay like tenfold, especially when it comes to making it to the GLeague and doing well there or eventually making it to the [NBA] because I know that Kai is definitely going to make it to the [NBA]."
Before Thirdy ended the 30-minute live talk with FIBA Asia Cup, he parted the fans by displaying his heartfelt appreciation for their support.
"I just want to say thank you," he concluded. "Not just to the Filipinos, but all the basketball fans around the world that have watched and supported our games. We appreciate you guys. All of you are the reason why I personally strive always to do my best because whenever you guys watch, I always want to make sure that I'm giving my best for my team. You guys are my motivators."
"I always appreciate your support for the team, and I can't wait to play for you guys again. Thank you for your love and support. That's not going to go unnoticed. I appreciate all of your love, and I hope we get to see each other on the court, whether it's on TV or anywhere else. I appreciate you guys."