Thirdy Ravena hopes PBA reconsiders ban on draft dodgers

Thirdy Ravena is one among notable players risking a ban owing to a little-known PBA rule that penalizes draft-eligible players who skipped the annual selection for two consecutive years.

The former Ateneo star, however, explained that passing on last year's draft was a matter of him chasing a longtime goal of playing overseas.

"Ever since before, I've always wanted to play internationally. And now that I have a chance -- and it's not just me exploring my options, there are actually offers -- it's a dream that I've always had and it would be a waste if I didn't take it," he said.

A report by Spin.ph unearthed the possibility of the league barring players who skip the rookie draft for two straight years, supposedly to discourage them from trying to get picked by teams of their choice, and there is no finer example of a player who could be in danger of a ban than Ravena, the 2019 selection's most notable omission.

But the 23-year-old wingman, who has already caught the attention of clubs in Japan, Italy, New Zealand and Australia after winning his third UAAP title and Finals MVP last year, said he is actually taking a gamble in pursuing a career abroad since he won't have a fallback option if those plans don't pan out.

"Nangangarap lang din ako. It's not like I'm trying to dodge any team. Skipping the draft was a risk on my part because I have no guaranteed team. If those plans don't push through, I don't have a team so it's a risk for me," he explained. . "I hope there's a way that we could consider that rule."

Ravena also said a PBA stint will always still be an attractive destination, but argued that the experience of playing overseas will hike the level of play once he gets back to playing for the national team.

"It's not really a matter of skipping the PBA. Who doesn't want to play in the PBA?" he said in a mix of English and Filipino. "I just hope that they understand and reconsider that rule. Chances for players to play worldwide will be wasted.

"If one gets called up for the national team, he can bring that experience and it's gonna make everyone better and raise the level of basketball higher. I hope they reconsider it. I'm just a kid with a dream."

His camp is still mulling all available opportunities, though, which gives Ravena a chance to focus on Gilas Pilipinas' campaign in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers this month.

"My agent has been talking to the teams and now, my main focus is to represent the country in the first window," said Ravena, who just came off a gold-medal campaign with Mighty Sports in the 2020 Dubai International Tournament. "I want to make sure I'm in the lineup . I want to represent the country even though we have a sure slot in 2023.

"I still want to show the level of basketball that we have because we don't want to use those teams as benchmarks. We want to be the benchmark in terms of how to play and the level of basketball."