Thirdy Ravena will learn a lot in Japan, says Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua

Chua: In playing abroad, you'll learn how to survive, live alone and be creative
Barangay Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua (MB File Photo)

Unlike his time, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Governor Alfrancis Chua believes Japan-bound Thirdy Ravena will have no problem adjusting to the life of an import once he starts playing in Japan’s B. League.

In this digital age, Chua said boredom can easily be beaten with one flick of the fingers and is convinced Ravena and even Kai Sotto will not encounter the difficulties he met when played in a Taiwan league almost three decades ago.

Unknown to many, the former University of Santo Tomas star became the first Filipino to play in a pro league abroad – long before Kiefer Ravena and Japeth Aguilar saw action in NBA’s D-League (now the G-League).

In 2004, Bong Alvarez and Vince Hizon also suited up for the Pennsylvania ValleyDawgs in the United States Basketball League (USBL).

The 6-foot-2 Ravena, a three-time UAAP finals MVP, will bring his act to San-en NeoPhoenix soon.

“Well siguro nga ako yung una… more than a year din ako naglaro doon,” said Chua referring to his stint with Luck Cement.

“Iba na ngayon modernized na. Saka marunong na din naman sila (Japanese) mag-ingles. Noong ako sa Taiwan, nagsasalita sila against me (Chinese) e hindi nila alam na marunong din ako. After two weeks nagulat sila nung kinausap ko na sila,” said Chua.

Chua recalled that his solid showing with Philip Sardines team in the defunct PBL (Philippine Basketball League) earned his a spot in the Taiwanese club team.

“Nakalaban namin sila sa Hong Kong, after nun kinausap nila ako and nag-offer. Ayoko talaga ng una kasi nga Taiwan, mapapalayo ako. Pero sabi ko
sige subukan ko na din,” he said.

Chua said the first two weeks was really tough as ‘boredom’ almost led to
him quitting the team and go back home.

However, he made himself busy with other things during his stay.

Aside from the nightly practice session, Chua said he conducted basketball clinics for free for aspiring players.

“In my first two weeks talagang winawasak ko yung kalendaryo… dahil nga kasi bored na bored ako, walang magawa,” said Chua, adding that he also had internal problems with some teammates whose playing time were reduced following his arrival.

“Noon ang meron lang kung manonood ka halimbawa ng mga movies Betamax, tapos sa TV naman four na channels… Chinese pa. Iba ang pagkain, iba ang kultura… mahirap talaga,” he added.

Chua, who was followed by Jerry Gonzales in 1991 when he left the team, said the hi-tech communication will be a source of entertainment for Ravena.

During his time, Chua’s only option to communicate with his family was through a letter or an expensive long-distance call.

And through the Internet, Chua said Ravena can enjoy watching movies, shows or basketball games, or indulge in online games.

Thirdy Ravena is set to join the San-En Neophoenix in the Japan B.League. (MB File Photo)

A stint abroad, Chua said, would benefit Ravena not just on improving his game. More importantly, it would teach him life lessons – similar to what he gained with his Taiwan gig.

“You’ll learn how to survive and live alone and be creative para ka lang mabuhay,” Chua said.

“You’ll also know yourself better, and gain experience and you’ll be able to cherish na kung ano yung meron ka sa Pilipinas, wala bigla kasi hahanap-hanapin mo yun,” added the now 54-year-old Chua.

Chua’s biggest moment playing for the Taiwanese club was when he nailed game- winning three-point shot to beat an all-star squad from PBL with no less than Johnny Abarrientos leading the team.