MANILA, Philippines—Call him "Finals Thirdy."
Thirdy Ravena exploded for a season-high 32 points in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 82 finals against University of Santo Tomas, which Ateneo won comfortably won, 91-77.
Ravena was unstoppable, making 14 of 18 field goals while also notching 5 rebounds and 3 assists. He did all of this in just less than 28 minutes of playing time, as the Blue Eagles cruised to victory over the Growling Tigers.
"Ako, hindi ako nagpabaya," said Ravena after the game. "Kung makakita ako ng opening, makakita ako na walang help side, or alam kong hindi ako mahahabol ng help side, I just really try to be aggressive."
" 'Yung mentality (ko) lang na to take it strong all the time," he added.
Ravena shrugged off every defender that UST sent at him, from Rhenz Abando to Brent Paraiso. He also made light of Soulemane Chabi Yo's interior defense, and pounced on the Tigers' turnovers for easy looks on the break.
His quick start to the game — Ravena had 11 points in the first five minutes — set the tone for Ateneo. He scored 14 points in the third quarter to help the Blue Eagles extend the lead to as many as 23 points, before sitting out the bulk of the fourth.
Indeed, the only thing that stopped Ravena was a scary fall with 3:36 to play in the game. The blue side of Araneta Coliseum held its collective breath as Ravena held on to his right ankle, and heaved a sigh of relief when the forward stood up and shook off the pain.
"OK naman," Ravena said, dismissing fears about an injury. "Noong initial lang, pero now, para sa akin, OK na."
Ravena averaged only 12.9 points and 6.7 rebounds in the elimination round, wherein he played just less than 24 minutes per game. He was unleashed in Game 1, however, and nearly matched his average in the first quarter alone.
Seeing Ravena come up big in the finals stage is nothing new. He has shown an eagerness to elevate his game when the stakes are higher, as evidenced by his back-to-back finals MVP trophies.
Against University of the Philippines in the Season 81 finals, Ravena reached another level. He nearly had a triple-double in Game 1, with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. He then exploded for a career-high 38 points in their title-clinching win in Game 2.
"Finals Thirdy" again came to play in Game 1 against UST, with Ravena's aggressiveness paying off again and again.
"Just take it strong kasi good things will come 'pag mag-go hard ka lang to the basket, whether you make a defender commit for you to give an extra pass, whether it's an open lane kasi naiwanan mo 'yung depensa mo, or whether it's a foul or an offensive rebound for your teammate," said Ravena.
"So maraming nagagawa ang pag-atake ng malakas."
With Ateneo needing just one win to seal a third consecutive championship, Ravena is ready to once again give his all and ensure that he ends his UAAP career on top.
"It's my last year," he pointed out. "I don’t wanna say at the end of the season na hindi ko binigay lahat. So I’m just laying it all on the line for my team and for the community."
"Ayaw ko naman umalis na may feeling ako na kaya ko pa magbigay. So for me it’s just about doing whatever it takes to make your teammates better, to help the team win."
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.