All his life, Thirdy Ravena dealt with the pressure of being a Ravena—until he finally became “the” Ravena
Photo by Tristan Tamayo
For the longest time, Thirdy Ravena had to live with comparisons to his father, the PBA legend Bong, and his brother, the basketball prodigy Kiefer. There was no escape—it was either living up to the Ravena name or becoming, well, a bust.
There’s nothing like the pressure of living life knowing that his father and brother have set the bar so high. The expectations and comparisons come second to none, and it was sometimes too easy to let those weigh him down.
Thirdy grew up watching his dad lead a practically flawless PBA career, winning multiple championships in the professional league. And while Thirdy played for the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) high school team, he witnessed his older brother Kiefer make a name for himself. The younger Ravena hardly got playing minutes as a sophomore in the ADMU high school team; meanwhile, his brother was making the rounds on newspaper headlines and social media after winning back-to-back championships in the University of Athletic Association Philippines (UAAP) Seniors tournament.
So how could Thirdy not question himself? It seemed that the only way out was to perhaps find another field where he could make a mark—but that wasn’t the path he took.
He trained hard and entered his junior year taller and stronger, which translated to great athleticism on the court. He became a playmaker in the forward position and finished his last season in high school averaging 18.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, which won him the UAAP Juniors Most Valuable Player (MVP) award—something his brother never won.
Despite all this, many people continued to criticize Thirdy for some of his actions on court: He frequently turned the ball over and ended up failing to bring home a championship to ADMU. And, as if to make things worse, there were still the comparisons to his dad and brother. People asked: Did he at least inherit some of his dad’s and brother’s skills? Was he capable of becoming an extraordinary player like them?
Onto the UAAP Seniors
Thirdy knew that his first season with the Ateneo Blue Eagles would be a lot different compared to his high school stint. Not only was he teamed up with his brother, he also didn’t get to play as much—which was never the case for Kiefer in his first year. In his first year alone, Kiefer was always seeing minutes and was already being dubbed the future of the Blue Eagles.
“I was aware of it. I see it on social media, I hear people talk about it and sometimes I really couldn’t help but compare myself to my brother because he played really well in his first year,” says Thirdy, reminiscing about the first time he played for the seniors’ team.
His second year was no different. In fact, it was the year he hit rock bottom. Due to his poor academic performance, Thirdy was not eligible to play in the UAAP. This not only meant sitting a year out, he also had to miss another season to play with Kiefer, who was in his last eligible year. This was the time where all the doubt and criticisms really brought the younger Ravena down.
But in that year filled with disbelief and criticisms, Thirdy still believed he had a choice.
“It’s actually a choice with what I wanted to do with my life. With that year that I had to sit out, I had a choice. I could either think about not playing basketball anymore or to bounce back in a way so people wouldn’t doubt me again. That was my mentality,” he says.
Just like in high school, Thirdy found himself in a similar situation but this suspension was far more difficult for him. That’s the thing about life, as one gets older, problems only continue to get tougher. Thirdy’s situation in high school was tough, but being suspended and not being able to play for a year was tougher.
So he worked relentlessly. He accepted the situation he couldn’t escape at the moment and instead improved his all-around game. His mission was to come back stronger than ever and to once again prove his doubters wrong.
Then the 80th UAAP season came, and Thirdy did what he had always been doing in his young basketball career: He played through all the doubt to prove his critics wrong. Led by coach Tab Baldwin, the Blue Eagles defeated their longtime nemesis De La Salle University Green Archers. Thirdy finished the season with an average of 13.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists a game. This was the season when everyone realized that Thirdy’s game was not like his brother’s or even his dad’s—it was his own.
Thirdy is a versatile player. He plays his best when he scores, rebounds, dishes, and of course when he takes over the whole game. If Kiefer is an all-around scorer like Kobe Bryant, Thirdy is an all-around player like LeBron James.
Season 81 was what sealed Thirdy’s legacy, as it was where he spearheaded Ateneo’s championship run against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. In those two monumental matches, the king Eagle was at the top of his game, tallying 38 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals to bring home yet another championship to Ateneo and the finals MVP for the second straight year—similar to what Kiefer did a few years back. Only now, Thirdy has one more year left in Ateneo and finds himself in a situation where he can win his third championship—something his brother has never done.
The new face of Gilas
Months after winning the championship for the blue and white university, Thirdy hit another milestone after being selected to play for the Philippine national team in their last attempt to make it to the FIBA World Cup.
He already made a statement in the world games after making his performance felt with thunderous block against Qatar. Thirdy and Gilas Pilipinas went on to advance to the World Cup after their successful campaign this month.
As Thirdy carries on playing for the national team, who knows what else is in store for his young but otherwise impressive basketball career? From being criticized for not living up to the Ravena name to now representing the Philippines around the world—Thirdy has gone a long way.
In life, everyone writes their own script. For Thirdy Ravena, his story is not that he’s Kiefer’s younger brother or Bong’s son, it’s that he is Thirdy Ravena—the 22-year-old king Eagle who, through sheer hard work and talent, proved his critics wrong and is now hitting strides with Gilas Pilipinas.