MANILA, Philippines — The Ateneo de Manila Grade School gave Thirdy Ravena and Matt and Mike Nieto the highest honor for a student-athlete on Wednesday afternoon.
In a ceremony at the Grade School Covered Courts, Ateneo retired their jersey numbers in recognition of the honor they have given the school throughout their stay in Loyola Heights.
Ravena’s No. 0, Matt’s No. 12, and Mike’s No. 7 were all retired but not before they were celebrated with touching speeches by their former teachers and coaches.
The three players all expressed their gratitude while also looking to inspire the grade school student-athletes who took part in the ceremony.
“I was a student-athlete and I’ve also failed in being a student and being an athlete. I didn’t let that define who I am and I just continued to move forward,” said Ravena.
Matt Nieto also encouraged the students to prioritize their academic responsibilities over their athletic ones.
“You really have to be a student first. Sports is there for a short time but if you get a degree, you’re gonna go a long way in life,” he said.
Mike, meanwhile, said his story should serve as an inspiration for the students.
“Hindi kami perpekto, lalo na ako. Hindi talaga ako gifted... Dahil na rin sa determination namin, umabot kaming lahat sa ganyan,” said Nieto.
The Nieto twins and Ravena played for Ateneo from grade school all the way to college. In 2019, they led the Blue Eagles to a third consecutive UAAP championship, with Ravena earning a third straight Finals MVP in the process.
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