Graduating Blue Eagles Thirdy Ravena and Isaac Go look forward to defending not just Ateneo's gold medal in the UAAP this year, but also the Philippines' gold in the Southeast Asian Games.
Ravena and Go were included in the 24-man pool of amateur and veteran stars who are being eyed to compete in the biennial meet that the country will host from November 30 to December 11.
The last time the two Ateneo standouts represented the Philippines together, they led their collegiate team to a fourth-place finish in the 2018 William Jones Cup in Taiwan. They are also part of the 23 for '23 Gilas Pilipinas pool composed of young talents who are expected to take the spotlight in the next edition of the FIBA World Cup.
"It would be an honor to don the blue and white for the country," said Go. "It's great. Not everybody gets a chance to do that so I'm just gonna make the most out of this experience."
Ravena is itching to earn his spot in this year's SEA Games roster, especially after being cut from the Gilas cadets squad -- captained by his brother Kiefer -- that won the gold in the previous edition of the tournament in Singapore.
"It's a great feeling to be given a chance to represent the country in the SEA Games," said Ravena. "In 2015, I wasn't able to make it to the team, and now, I'm ready to give my all if ever I get picked."
Just seven months ago, the younger Ravena made waves as the only collegiate player in the lineup of Gilas Pilipinas in the final window of the Asian qualifiers, helping the Philippines earn a ticket to the World Cup.
The Ravena brothers missed the opportunity of playing together because Kiefer was still serving his 18-month suspension when Thirdy made his debut at the senior's level. This coming SEA Games, they hope they can finally work hand in hand in bringing glory to the country.
"It's always nice to achieve history, especially if I'm with my brother," said Thirdy. "To be given a chance not just to play with him but also the other great players who will be included in the lineup, I can't wait to show our country's pride."
Aside from Ravena and Go, amateur stars Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero, Juan Gomez de Liaño, Dave Ildefonso, Justine Baltazar, and Kai Sotto were also named to the initial pool for the SEA Games.
"It's going to be fun to play with these guys," said Go. "It's a continuity of the (Gilas) program, just with more youth."
"I'm sure they want to test out the young'uns and they want to see what we can bring to the team," said Ravena. "Just to be included in the lineup is already a big honor for us and we can't wait to just play. Not everyone is given the opportunity to play for the country. We're just gonna enjoy the moment."