Thirdy Ravena, Nieto twins underline student-athlete definition in jersey retirement

February 22 ------ THIRDY Ravena and twins Matt and Mike Nieto took their rightful place in the annals of Katipunan as Ateneo de Manila Grade School retired their jersey numbers on Wednesday. The ceremony was the centerpiece of the day's Parangal sa mga Atleta as coaches and teachers of the three gave a toast to the contributions of the trio to the school. "It’s crazy how time flies," sighed Ravena, who transferred from La Salle Greenhills to Ateneo back in Grade Five. The three have been valuable to Ateneo's winning tradition way back in elementary in the Small Basketeers Philippines (SBP) of the BEST Center’s twin SBP-Passerelle tournaments.

Later on, they turned out to be key members of the Blue Eagles' past three UAAP championships, including an unprecedented 16-0 run this past UAAP Season 82. But more than anything, they reiterated that success shouldn't come from athletics alone, highlighting the importance of one's studies as they addressed young Atenean student-athletes. "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," said Matt Nieto. They also made sure to explain that before all the glory, one must endure challenges, and in their specific cases, failures, which only brought out the best in them.

"I was a student-athlete and I’ve also failed in being a student and being an athlete. But I didn’t let that define who I am and I just continued to move forward," said Ravena, who turned out to be a three-time Finals MVP. "Hindi kami perpekto, lalo na ako," shared Mike Nieto. "Hindi talaga ako gifted. Pero dahil na rin sa determination namin, umabot kaming lahat dito." The three are now part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) begins its preparations for the 2023 Fiba World Cup. With their uniforms being raised to the rafters, no student-athlete in Ateneo Grade School basketball teams can wear the numbers 0, 7, and 12 -- their jersey numbers in the seniors team.