<
>

Thirdy Ravena raring to prove he belongs with the big boys

play
Andray Blatche to return Friday (1:53)

Andray Blatche is set to arrive on Friday and will have 10 days to practice with Gilas Pilipinas. (1:53)

Ateneo Blue Eagle standout Thirdy Ravena attended Gilas Pilipinas' practice for the second time in a row.

Just after helping his team win the PCCL Presidents Cup championship on Monday, Ravena went straight to the Meralco Gym to take part in the training session as Gilas ramped up its preparations for the last window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in February.

However, Ravena, who at the meantime is serving as a backup player, still needs to address a few academic issues and is waiting to get clearance from his school to join the national team in its away games against Qatar and Kazakhstan. Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin, though, has been very vocal and supportive of his inclusion in the pool.

"We're gonna meet up Tuesday. We'll meet with Father Nemy (Que) and I think Coach Tab. We'll try and finalize the schedule for my academic calendar," an optimistic Ravena told reporters.

"Hopefully (I get) positive (feedback) because as of now, I only have nine units, so it's not as heavy as my previous semesters. And I hope Father and Ateneo can trust me that I can still take care of my academics despite the absences."

Ravena has attained success in the collegiate ranks so it's no surprise to his fellow national team pool members that Gilas coach Yeng Guiao wanted him in their training sessions.

"I know how hard he works. So to be surprised? I'd say no. It's just always pleasant to see him, to see a player come in and really execute his game and get better everyday. It's a testament to his work ethic and the way he approaches the game," said Gilas veteran Gabe Norwood.

Though he is the youngest talent in the pool, Ravena wants to show, despite his lack in international experience, that he's no pushover and can compete on the same level as the senior Gilas players.

"I think the most important thing right now is that I tried to prove myself as someone who's not a kid anymore, and I wanna show coach and the whole coaching staff that I'm ready anytime they decide to put me in," explained Ravena.

"Of course, I don't wanna be treated as a kid also. I wanna tell them I'm also part and I also deserve to be with the big boys. That's my mentality coming into the training sessions."

ESPN5's Lyn Olavario contributed to this report.