Thirdy Ravena signs with San-en Neophoenix in Japan league

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 24) — Former Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagle Thirdy Ravena will be playing professional basketball in Japan.

The San-en Neophoenix signed Ravena to play in the Japan Professional Basketball League for the 2020-2021 season based on the Asian Player Quotas—a new competition system aimed to enhance competitive abilities by matching Asian players with each other.

Ravena is the first Filipino to play in the Japan-based league.

“B.League has engaged communication with foreign countries to promote internationalization since the first season in 2016,” the league said Wednesday in a statement. “We are very pleased to welcome Ravena to B.League for the first year of Asian Player Quotas.”

Ravena said Japan is nearer than the other international leagues who offered him a slot.

“It’s close to my family and friends, just in case I get homesick there. Also because Japan is near only in our country, the team can allow me to play in Gilas,” Ravena told CNN Phlippines’ Rico Hizon.

Ravena is one of the 23 players selected in the “23-for-23” national pool for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which the country will host together with Japan and Indonesia.

As to adjusting his hardcourt skills in a new playing environment, Ravena believes he still needs to improve his playmaking abilities.

“Now that I am actually playing a point guard-shooting guard position, I have to have better handles and also be more consistent with my shooting,” he explained.

The former Ateneo star promised he will do his best to represent the country in the Japanese professional league.

“I wouldn’t just be representing myself as an individual but also I’m gonna bring the flag with me in Japan. It's an inspiration for me to work hard to keep representing the country in the best way that I could,” he said.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the country’s national basketball federation, expressed its excitement in Ravena’s upcoming Japan stint.

“Playing in Japan is a great opportunity for Thirdy to expand his horizons and to learn more basketball at an international level. This is his chance to grow as a basketball player and everything that he learns in Japan will be beneficial for Gilas as well,” said SBP President Al Panlilio in a statement.

His mother and volleyball analyst Mozzy Ravena congratulated Thirdy in a tweet.

“Another proud moment. Soar high from Eagle to NeoPhoenix. I love it!” she said.

The Ateneo stalwart won three consecutive Finals MVP award with the Blue Eagles in the University Athletics Association of the Philippines.

Ravena can be recalled to have skipped the Philippine Basketball Association Draft in 2019 to weigh other options for his basketball career.