Meet the trusted trainer making sure Thirdy's true focus is on Japan

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 27, 2020 03:38 PM
Meet the trainer making sure Thirdy's true focus is on Japan
(Photos courtesy of Juan Carlo Antonio Angeles)

Thirdy Ravena will have to play guard for San-En NeoPhoenix in Japan's B.League.

"He can play shooting guard. He can play small forward," Phoenix Co., Ltd. President Kenjiro Hongo said in his native tongue in the three-time UAAP Finals MVP's introductory press conference last Friday. "We will also try him at point guard. He will be a key player for us this season."

Only, Ravena has been, for the most part, a forward in his time in Ateneo de Manila - both Jrs. and Srs. - and has only dabbled at the 2-spot for times under head coach Tab Baldwin.

As it turns out, though, the 6-foot-2 all-around player has long been prepping and priming for this.

And he has been doing so with the help of a trusted trainer - Jolo Tamayo of True Focus. "We have been doing things he has never done before because he's trying to become a point guard or a shooting guard. That's why we focused on ballhandling and improved his perimeter shooting to make him a deadly three-point shooter," he said.

For Tamayo, it's no surprise at all that Ravena is getting the golden opportunity to showcase his skills abroad as, from the very start, the latter has proven his discipline and determination to the former. "Thirdy is very humble and hardworking. He trains as if he was an underdog and is always hungry for improvement," the youthful trainer said.

Tamayo then recounted two inspiring instances of Ravena's fire and desire to be better. "One time, we were doing a drill and his nose was bleeding, but he didn't stop until the drill was over. I was so in awe because I thought he would relax when he realized (what was happening to his nose), but he still gave his 110 percent," he said.

"Another instance was during the holidays when the gyms were closed early and since he came from Antipolo, I thought he wouldn't be able to train. But he said, 'Kahit dyan lang tayo sa harap ng kotse. Basta makapag-training,'" the founder of True Focus said. "We still trained in the parking lot until 12 midnight. That's how thirsty Thirdy is in training and I think this is what separates him from the rest of the competition.

With all those, Tamayo just feels fortunate to have the golden opportunity to help Ravena spread his wings even further. "We were just introduced by a common friend and, to be honest, I thought it was a long shot for us to work with Thirdy," he shared.

He then continued, "We were just lucky that Thirdy was free one day and he gave us a chance to show how we make things work."

Even better for True Focus, having Ravena with them gives them just the boost they need to keep moving forward with their program.

In particular, this is all more than enough proof for Tamayo that he is on the right path after he had to take a detour in his playing career because of an ACL injury. "This is all very fulfilling because I never had a trainer who made me better. I'm still chasing my dream to be a basketball player, but I'm very ecstatic because while doing so, I could help other young players achieve their dreams and become better in the sport they love," he said.

The guard-turned-trainer once suited up for Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the NCAA Jrs. from 2015 to 2017 before a knee injury sidelined him.

While on the shelf, he used all the time he had in his hands to learn tips and tricks to improve his game - tips and tricks that until now, he's sharing with students of True Focus.

While their no. 1 student is now headed to Japan, Tamayo said his education with them is far from over. "We can always try out new things like virtual training and coaching, but of course, everything would still depend on Thirdy's availability. For me, I'll just watch his games in Japan and shares insights on what we need to tweak," he said.

He then continued, "I will always be here to support him and once he comes back here after Japan, I'm sure he'll be a beast - a beast that will still want to be better."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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