Thirdy Ravena adds to growing number of Filipino imports in Japan

Thirdy Ravena

Thirdy Ravena is headed to Japan to play for the BLeague. INQUIRER PHOTO/TRISTAN TAMAYO

MANILA, Philippines—Another Filipino athlete made history after three-time UAAP champion Thirdy Ravena committed to play in the Japanese BLeague after graduating from Ateneo.

Ravena will join the SAN EN NeoPhoenix as its Asian import and will be the first international player from Asia to suit up for a Japanese Division 1 team.

Already a highly-touted prospect to before entering the PBA, Ravena’s stock is expected to rise even higher as a foreign reinforcement in Japan but the athletic wing from Ateneo isn’t the first Filipino to bolster a team in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Sisters Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago also created waves in the women’s volleyball circuit while men’s national team members Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas were prime assets in the V.League’s male division.

The Santiago sisters and Espejo first played in Japan in 2018 with Bagunas following in 2019 after a successful campaign with National University in the UAAP and Philippine Air Force in the Spikers’ Turf.

Espejo, a five-time MVP in the UAAP with Ateneo, and Bagunas played for the same team in Japan—Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler—and had memorable duels against several of the country’s top national players including opposite hitter Yuji Nishida.

Bagunas and Espejo, however, never played together with the White Eagles with the former Blue Eagle switching to Visakha in the Thailand league.

Dindin first suited up for the Toray Arrows then changed sides to join the Kurobe Aquafairies. During first club stint in Japan, she played against younger sister Jaja who was part of Ageo Medics.

While Dindin was more of a role player for in Japan, Jaja became an outright star with the Medics when she helped lead the club to the bronze medal of the 2019-20 season.

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