Thirdy: Draft dodging? I’m pursuing my dream

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    RAVENA: Playing overseas worth the risk.
    RAVENA: Playing overseas worth the risk.

    DODGE the pro league draft and pay a dear price? It’s a risk Thirdy Ravena is willing to take.

    The former Ateneo star forward insisted he signed up with San-en NeoPhoenix in the Japan B. League due to pursue his dream of showing his wares overseas.

    “It definitely is a big risk. I still actually have passion and that’s what I’m doing, and that’s exactly why I’m doing it,” said Ravena during an episode of the online Sports Page.

    “I love the game, I love winning, I love the hardship, I love every single sweat, blood and tear that I bore in the game to make myself better every single day,” he added.

    While his big move to suit up in Japan was predominantly hailed, some quarters felt the 6-foot-2 Ravena was avoiding the PBA draft, or a local team.

    After leading Ateneo to the Promised Land for the third straight season where he also bagged his third finals MVP award in a row, Ravena, 23, was projected as likely the top pick overall but skipped the draft last December.

    “If they want to call it draft dodging, that’s on them,” said Ravena. “But for me, that’s chasing my dream.”

    The PBA has the so-called “Ray Parks Jr. rule” that bans for two years players who do not apply for the draft.

    Board chairman Ricky Vargas clarified Ravena’s case could be different since he informed Commissioner Willie Marcial of his plans.

    Marcial said the wisdom behind the rule is to prevent incoming rookies, especially the possible top picks, from choosing the teams they want to play for.

    “Si Thirdy naman didn’t apply for the draft but he informed the Commissioner that he was looking at playing in Japan,” Vargas said last Tuesday in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast. “As of this time, the rule hasn’t changed.”

    Aside from Ravena, a member of the national team training pool, suspended forward Calvin Abueva of Phoenix and Meralco center Raymond Almazan also received offers to play in the B. League but declined.

    Prolific guard Terrence Romeo of San Miguel Beer is also reportedly being eyed to take his act to Japan.

    Ravena will be the first Filipino and first Asian to play under the B. League’s Asian quotas initiative.

    His father Bong, a former pro and current TNT coach, is supportive of Thirdy’s plans but admitted he and his wife Mozzy, a former volleyball star, and their family initially had second thoughts.

    “I’m very happy naman na OK ang napuntahan niya. I just told him to enjoy and play hard.

    Unang una, happy for the opportunity but at the same time as a parent medyo malungkot kasi aalis iyong anak mo and mag-i-stay doon for a while,” said Bong.

    “So, medyo alanganin kami noong una. But at the same time, iyong experience din for him talagang pabor din sa kanya, he will live independently. Gusto ko rin ibigay sa kanya iyon.”