Thirdy Ravena to play in Japan's B.League

Thirdy Ravena will play as an Asian import for the San-en Neo Phoenix squad in the B.League, Japan's professional basketball league.

The news was announced on Wednesday in a report posted on the team's official website.

Ravena will be the first Asian Special Slot contracted player in the B.League.

The 23-year-old guard will have to wait a little longer before making his debut, though, as the league cancelled its current season in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ravena had a stellar collegiate career in the UAAP, winning three championships and three Finals MVP awards. He also was a member of the Gilas Pilipinas squad that qualified for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Ravena, who decided not to apply for the 2020 PBA Rookie Draft despite being one of the top prospects, will try to help turn around the fortunes of the Japanese squad, which finished at the bottom of the Central District Division last season with a 5-36 slate.

Father and TNT head coach Bong Ravena was very grateful for the opportunity.

"Masaya lang kaming pamilya at nagpapasalamat lang kami sa panginoon sa blessings na binibigay nya sa amin. The rest ay paghihirapan na ni Thirdy," the elder Ravena told ESPN5.com in a text message.

Meanwhile, Sandy Arespachocaga, one of Ravena's long-time mentors at Ateneo, mentioned that it is a welcome development for Philippine basketball.

"I think I am one of many who are happy with the news. This is good news for Thirdy, his family, his friends, for us in Ateneo, for the Gilas program and for our countrymen," he mentioned in a text message.

"Big challenge also for Thirdy, but I am sure he welcomes it."