Thirdy Ravena's addition to the Gilas Pilipinas pool competing in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers is about more than adding depth to a roster depleted by injuries to Troy Rosario and Raymond Almazan.
According to head coach Yeng Guiao, it's part of the national team's long-range plans.
"I've always been looking at the next generation of players," he said. "I think it's a valuable experience to all these young guys, to have a taste of how it is to play with the top players of the country. It gives them a lot of confidence, they learn a lot from the players."
The Ateneo standout was the latest young talent tapped to join the senior's basketball team. Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras were part of the national pool for the Asian Games last August, while Kai Sotto was invited to practice with the team in the previous FIBA window.
"When we were starting, we included Ricci, we included Kobe. After that, we included Kai. Now, it's Thirdy. We are investing in the next generation of players," Guiao said.
Guiao told Ravena that he will fill in if Rosario (broken nose) or Almazan (sprained ankle) are not healthy enough to suit up in must-win away games against Qatar on February 21 and Kazakhstan on February 24.
"He's our back-up for Troy and Raymond," said Guiao. "Just in case any of the two guys cannot make it, he will fill up the slot. I told him right off the bat so he knows his expectations."
Ravena still has a chance of making the team regardless of the status of the two injured players.
"Of course in the process of practicing, I do not take away the possibility of him showing that he deserves a slot, a regular slot in the team instead of just being a back-up option," he said. "We won't invite them if we don't think they don't have any chance at all."
Ravena, who is still awaiting clearance from his school to join Gilas Pilipinas in the next window, is out to prove he deserves to be included.
"I've been dreaming of this moment," said Ravena. "Since 2015, I've been dreaming about the 2019 World [Cup] and I wanna represent the country in that particular tournament. I think I tweeted four years ago that I wanted to play. So now that I have the chance, I'm gonna give it everything."