Players, coaches and fans of the Ateneo Blue Eagles stormed towards the center court of the Araneta Coliseum. Tears fell onto the hardwood as grown men seized each other in hugs and high fives.
It was 2011. Ateneo had just won their fourth straight men’s basketball title. Somewhere in that mid-court chaos was Blue Eagles rookie Kiefer Ravena. Somewhere not too far away, watching him bask in it all, was his younger brother Thirdy.
Thirdy took mental notes of everything that happens when one wins a UAAP chip. He had plans on eventually getting his own. He wanted his own tearful celebration someday.
The Ravena brothers are similar in many ways. They share interests in music, fashion and love for basketball championships. That’s why it becomes easy to do them the injustice of comparing them with each other.
But their stories tell them apart.
Back in his time in the juniors division, Thirdy was just as dominant as his kuya was at that level. He was a triple-double waiting to happen every single game. It was when he moved up to the collegiate ranks that his story started to unfold a different way.
In Kiefer’s first year in the seniors, he bagged the Rookie of the Year award and was named into the Mythical Five. Thirdy’s first season in that division wasn’t as decorated. He averaged 1.4 points and 1.5 rebounds over 6.9 minutes in 12 games. They weren’t Thirdy-ish numbers, especially considering the monstrous averages he had in the juniors.
After debuting in season 77, the young Ravena had to sit out the next year to focus on his academics. It wasn’t part of his blueprint to greatness, but it was a necessary detour. Sticking to the goal of winning a UAAP title, Thirdy had to put as much work in the library as he did in the gym.
It all paid off when he regained eligibility in season 79. And despite missing his brother’s final year in Ateneo, Thirdy understood the size of the opportunity in front of him. It was his turn to rise.
For some players, one year away from the competition could mean rust. That wasn’t the case for Thirdy. He took on one of the lead roles for Ateneo, and averaged 9.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
In his second year in the UAAP, Blue Eagles reached Finals just like his brother. They were up against arch rivals the La Salle Green Archers. It was the perfect situation for Ravena to get his glorious UAAP championship moment. But La Salle swept them 2-0. Thirdy was tearful, but it wasn’t how he imagined it. They weren’t tears of joy.
Thirdy went to work in the offseason. He bulked up and strengthened his body to prepare for another match-up with the bigger, badder Green Archers. He not only improved his skills but his understanding of Coach Tab Baldwin’s system as well. He came out ready to play. He came out ready to lead the Blue Eagles just like his brother did before him.
Kiefer is Kobe. He’s a deadly scorer that uses his skill and IQ to put the ball in the bucket. Thirdy is more of a LeBron. He’s an all-around threat that is willing to do everything on the floor to carry his team. Some would say Thirdy is a jack of all trades, master of none. He proved in Season 80 that he mastered the Blue Eagles’ system. He picked his spots and took over the scoring when he needed to. He also understood when to feed his teammates and make the right plays.
His all-around play earned him something his brother also won before him. Thirdy was named a member of the Mythical Five for the first time in his college career. Now, only one thing was missing, and Thirdy had the chance to get it.
One full year later, he was back in the Finals. The set up was far too familiar. UAAP Finals. Ateneo versus La Salle. It was, again, a perfect moment for Thirdy to capture his first UAAP crown.
And he didn’t waste the opportunity.
Players, coaches and fans of the Ateneo Blue Eagles stormed towards the center court of the Araneta Coliseum. Teardrops fell onto the hardwood as grown men seized each other in hugs and high fives. In the middle of it all, Thirdy Ravena teared up as he kissed the trophy.
The 2011 championship was only one of the many UAAP titles the younger Ravena saw Ateneo win. And much like each and every one of us, Thirdy knew that, in time, he would get his.