The former Ateneo Blue Eagle superstar’s decision to play overseas has little to do with why the two-year PBA draft rule was created in the first place

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Tricia Guevara | Photo by Tristan Tamayo

Three-time UAAP champion Thirdy Ravena announced on Wednesday, June 24 that he will be moving to Japan to play professional basketball. The former Ateneo Blue Eagle will suit up for the San-EN Neophoenix under the Japan Professional Basketball League (B. League). 

 

Ravena, who skipped the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) draft last 2019, admits that playing in Japan will be a huge challenge. And that’s exactly why the three-time finals MVP is heading to East Asia—to step out of his comfort zone and do something no Filipino has ever done before. Ravena is the first Asian import to sign with a Japanese team and the first Filipino to play in the Japanese-based league.

“The pressure will be different if you’re an import because you’re expected to perform right away,” said Ravena in a report by Inquirer.net. I am just preparing myself for the challenge,” he added. 

 

How should the PBA react to Ravena’s decision?

The PBA has a (controversial) strict policy prohibiting eligible rookies from joining the draft if they decide to skip the annual-selection for two years straight. Ravena, who was projected to be the first pick in the 2019 PBA draft, will clearly be missing in this year’s draft once again, so his chances of making it to the PBA in the future could be bleak. Although not required, the PBA has yet to comment on Ravena’s decision to play overseas. It’s also worth mentioning that the three-time collegiate champion and finals MVP has spoken to League commissioner Willie Marcial about keeping his hopes of playing in the PBA alive.

The former Ateneo superstar is well aware of the consequences of skipping the PBA draft for the second straight year. Last February, Ravena did not hesitate to voice his concern about possibly not being able to play in the PBA. At that time, the 23-year-old already sparked the interest of multiple professional clubs from Japan, Australia, Italy and New Zealand. Ravena made it clear that his main reason for skipping the PBA draft is because he wants to pursue his life-long dream and once in a lifetime opportunity to play overseas. 

Ravena made it clear that his main reason for skipping the PBA draft is because he wants to pursue his life-long dream and once in a lifetime opportunity to play overseas

Despite it’s withstanding rule, the PBA needs to respect Ravena’s decision. Marcial said the reason behind the two-year PBA eligibility draft rule is meant to prevent draft prospects from deciding what team they want to play for. Ravena’s decision to play overseas has little to do with why the draft rule was created in the first place. 

Ravena will blossom in Japan  

Ravena’s international experience will hike his level of play as well, which the Philippine national team will surely benefit from. Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio himself agreed that this opportunity for Ravena will be profitable for Gilas. It would be unfortunate if the PBA closes its doors on the Japan-bound superstar in the future because that will just mean the league is against its local superstars from pursuing greater heights. The development of local players is also integral to the PBA’s long-term success.