Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go look to make most out of their last ride in UAAP 82
Santino Honasan on Sep 03, 2019 05:49 PM
“It’s been five years with them, it’s been a crazy ride with them, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs as an institution and as a community. Just with my last year, I just want to give it my all, for the community, kasi nga last ko na ‘to,” - Thirdy Ravena
When the men’s basketball tournament of the 82nd UAAP Season tips off this coming Wednesday, it will also mark the start of the final tour of duty for a handful of Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles, including reigning Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena and pivotal big man Isaac Go.
Ravena and Go, along with siblings Matt and Mike Nieto, all pivotal parts of Ateneo’s back-to-back championship runs, will be closing their UAAP careers at the end of the season, and they’re certainly hoping to make it a grand exit with a third consecutive men’s basketball title.
“I guess my initial thought would be that it’s sad, and that time flies by so fast, the thought of leaving the community is hard for me to accept, but since it’s my last year, I’m just going to make the most out of it because they’ve been supporting us since day one,” said Ravena. The high-flying guard/forward made his UAAP debut back in UAAP Season 77 and was then playing in the shadow of his older brother and Ateneo legend Kiefer. Thirdy has since carved his own path to icon status in Katipunan, leading the Blue Eagles to two championships.
“It’s been five years with them, it’s been a crazy ride with them, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs as an institution and as a community. Just with my last year, I just want to give it my all, for the community, kasi nga last ko na ‘to,” he continued.
Go was also supposed to be part of that Season 77 rookie class, but ended up missing his first season due to a shoulder injury. The 6-foot-7 Xavier High School product made his debut the following season and made a mark for himself in the UAAP, following in a long line of standout bigs to come from Ateneo de Manila.
“It’s been a long journey. I can’t believe how six years can fly by really quickly just like that. It’s just like yesterday that I can remember, I was a rookie, I was in high school entering practices then with Coach Bo and the vets then were Frank [Golla], and then you had [Chris] Newsome, [Nico] Elorde, and they welcomed me in the program and they helped me out, and now, it’s my turn to do the same with these new rookies.”
“Now I’m in the position that they were in years ago where you want to win a championship in your senior year, you want to graduate with a bang, and there are no words to describe the feeling, I’m grateful that I’ve been given an opportunity by God, by the school by my family to go to such a prestigious university and play the sport that I love,” Go added.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Apart from getting to close out their UAAP careers with a three-peat, Ravena and Go are looking to leave a lasting legacy with the Ateneo men’s basketball program that goes beyond the basketball court.
For Go, it’s about instilling a mindset of always working hard and striving for the best.
“Back then, when we were undergraduates, we [wanted to win championships] for our seniors because we didn’t want them to experience the pain of losing in their final year, and now we’re trying to pass on that mentality that you shouldn’t think you have a second chance,” Go said. “Every year, you have to go out and perform and make the most out of it because five years is really [short]. You think it’s a long time but it just went by like that, in a snap of a finger.”
He hopes to be able to pass this mentality down to the next batch of Blue Eagles so that they too can pass it on to future generations.
“We have to lead by example, we’re the veterans, we’re the seniors, we’re the guys that has been through the finals, the toughness against these opponents, and we just have to show it to them, we have to lead them, and if we’re able to lead them properly, they, in return, can follow us and they can be leaders in their own right,” he continued.
Ravena, meanwhile, hopes to be able to leave more than just memories of his excellence on the court. He also wants to be able to leave a legacy that involves building a culture that can live on with future Blue Eagle squads.
“What we try to focus on is how we could make the system work, not just with the veterans but also the new guys coming in, how us veterans help inculcate the system with the new guys, kasi that’s the real challenge for us veterans, is that if we leave the team, will our culture still be there? Our best legacy is that we make sure na nandun pa yung kultura namin, which is servanthood. That’s what we preach in the team, is that we do everything for one another, not for ourselves, and if we do that, if we’re confident to leave the school and the team knowing that it’s in good hands, I think that’s when we really feel that we’ve done our jobs.”
Heading into the new season, the Blue Eagles are once again the favorites to capture the men’s basketball crown, but it could be an uphill battle as they again face a tough crop of challengers, led by a retooled UP squad featuring big-name newcomers in Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras.
While UP are definitely among the most buzzed about contenders to Ateneo’s title this season, every team deserves the same level of respect and preparation, says Ravena.
“We don’t focus on just one team, even if we know that it’s a strong team. We’re gonna prepare harder in terms of scouting report probably because they’re more stacked as you said, but the preparation will still be the same. We’re going to work as hard mentally and physically for every single team that we’re gonna face, no matter how strong or how weak people think they are.”
As for the ‘favorites’ tag, Ravena isn’t really buying into that.
“I guess ‘favorite’ is a relative term. Honestly, we don’t feel that we are, we feel that other teams are more favored than us, and we can see it, especially nung Finals when UP outnumbered the crowd by a lot, but that’s not what we try to focus on.”
For Go, being the favorite means that there are expectations put on the team, and those expectations should be seen as motivation to deliver.
“I guess when you’re put in a position to succeed, there is that expectation, and i think we live off of it, because when you have this expectation it puts a little bit of pressure on us to perform, to know that so many people have invested in you, so many people have given their time, sweat, things that can never be repaid. This is why we turn that into our motivation to perform.”
“It’s nice to year “three-peat”, but every year is a new year. If you won last year, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to win this year. I remember the famous line of Coach Tab after we won our first championship, he said ‘This team is not a championship team because this is not exactly the same team that came back’, and it was that kind of mindset that we’ve tried to carry on, is that the guys may be the same, but the team will always be different from year to year,” Go added.
When the curtain draws on this basketball season, whether or not the Blue Eagles hoist their third straight title, it will be the end of the line for Ravena and Go.
As they go on to make even more memories and accomplish even more great things in the next stage of their careers, they will have already left their marks in Katipunan.
“I just want to make sure na the culture is still there when we leave, when the veterans and the seniors leave,” shared Ravena. “Individually, I just want people to see my value as a teammate, not just as an individual player, but also how I could impact my team and how I could make my team better inside the court and how I could make the guys make basketball easier. That’s what I want my legacy to be. That’s how I want people to see me as.”
“Not everybody can become a great chef [or player], but a great chef [or player] can come from anywhere,” Go said, quoting a line from the movie Ratatouille. “I was never really poised to play basketball, I had zero background, I had, in a basketball sense, nothing, but I’ve been given a chance to make it far and I think this line not only represents me, but a lot of these players who come from the province, they come from different backgrounds and different places. You see that you can never pinpoint where the next big thing is going to come from but that big thing can come from anyone or anywhere.”