THIRDY Ravena got some pre-game words from older brother Kiefer, a seasoned international campaigner, last Sunday.
The younger Ravena showed he heeded Kiefer’s advice by leading a new-look Gilas Pilipinas side to a big start in its 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers campaign.
Gilas ripped Indonesia 100-70 at the Mahaka Arena in flood-hit Jakarta, thanks largely to Thirdy’s 23 points and eight rebounds, while wingmen Roger Pogoy and CJ Perez chipped in 16 and 11 markers, respectively.
Kiefer and newcomer Juan Gomez de Liano also had 10 points for Gilas.
It did not hurt that Kiefer was named skipper of the Mark Dickel-mentored squad, which is made up of seven pros and five amateur standouts.
“It feels good, definitely. It made me feel more comfortable being in the team, especially with my brother as the captain,” said the 22-year-old Thirdy Ravena, a former Ateneo ‘King Eagle’, during the post-game interview via FIBA.com.
“He (Kiefer) prepped me pretty good. He was basically doing his part as a captain and making everyone else, not just me, feel comfortable around the team to just do our jobs,” he added.
After taking a 38-27 lead at the break, the Filipino dribblers unleashed a crippling 12-0 blitz behind Thirdy Ravena, Juan Gomez de Liano, and Troy Rosario.
That telling binge enabled Gilas to turn a 55-51 lead into a commanding 67-51 spread on a Gomez de Liano free throw with 10.7 seconds remaining in the third canto.
Gilas met little resistance from the Indonesians from there and padded its lead to as high as 98-67 on a Justin Chua’s layup, only 1:05 left in the payoff period.
Andakara Prastawa paced Indonesia, which absorbed its second straight loss following a 76-109 drubbing at the hands of South Korea last Feb. 20, with 28 points, while Abraham Grahita had 17.
SBP president Al Panlilio heaped praises on Gilas’ emphatic win on the road after its match against Thailand last Feb. 20 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum was called off due to threat posed by the deadly coronavirus.
FIBA has yet to announce when the Gilas-Thailand duel will be played.
Gilas will visit South Korea in November.
The impressive win over the Indons was enough for SBP president Al Panlilio to predict brighter things for Gilas – and Philippine basketball in general.
“The future of Philippine basketball is bright. Gilas Pilipinas men made us proud once again with their dominant victory against Indonesia to start their campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers,” said Panlilio in a statement.
“The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas extends our congratulations to Program Director Tab Baldwin, interim head coach Mark Dickel, all the members of the coaching staff, and all the players for a job well done. The SBP also thanks the PBA through Commissioner Willie Marcial and the Board of Governors for once again making their players available for this national cause.
“What we saw in the game against Indonesia was just a glimpse of what could be and we’re all excited to explore what’s next in the development of our young players and the whole team. On to the next one, Para sa Bayan.”