Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao's wish was granted albeit partially as Ateneo Blue Eagle Thirdy Ravena will joined Gilas for practice for the first time on Thursday night.
Although it's officially the second practice for the pool, this is the first time that they will get actual work done. The session on Monday was an orientation of sorts. The team is preparing for the final window of the FIBA Asian Qualifiers with two road games against Qatar and Kazakhstan.
"It's a great honor to be included in the pool. It's always the best feeling to represent the country," Ravena said after helping the Blue Eagles defeat San Beda in their best-of-three series in the PCCL President's Cup semifinals. "It feels good to play for the country because everyone is supporting you, everyone's behind you."
With a slim pool for this window and with the PBA in full swing, Guiao decided to include Ravena in the pool while some of the Gilas players are recovering from injuries. He also did this with the previous pool when he included Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero -- although both were not included in the final lineup.
Guiao found an ally in Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin, a former Philippine national team coach, who's all for the inclusion of Ravena.
"I think that where there is a priority for the national team, I think it's always important that players can be available, you know, if they can be available they can go. So we support that," Baldwin said after the game.
There are still were still some things that needed to be ironed out.
"I don't know if a decision has been made by Father (Nemy Que) you know because they have to work out the academic issues, but from a basketball standpoint, we support that," Baldwin said.
The coach knows that the education of the student-athletes is a priority for Ateneo, evident in their second game against San Beda where they only had five players for the entire first quarter. Four Blue Eagles made it for the second period but they still missed the services of key members, such as Angelo Kouame, Raffy Verano, Will Navarro, Gian Mamuyac, and Matt and Mike Nieto.
"I'm happy for him. At some point it should be the goal of all players, and at some point they have to be ready to step up," Baldwin said.
"So we'll see whether he's ready or not. He still has a lot to work on but there are other aspects to his game that can certainly transfer to the international game. We are all supportive of him, behind him, hope the academic situation allows him, and hope that's he's successful."