Thirdy Ravena struggled to the pressroom of the SM Mall of Asia Arena after Ateneo’s three-peat-clinching win against University of Santo Tomas, Wednesday evening.
There were plenty of fans of all ages clad in blue and white, asking for a picture with him or for an autograph.
But in the midst of the chaos, the 22-year-old was searching for someone in the lower box section of the arena.
He was searching for Andie.
“I saw him. From my peripheral nakita ko siya,” he said.
Upon seeing Andy, Ravena went up the chairs of the patron section. He then removed his UAAP gold medal and put it on Andy’s neck.
A gold medal was his promise to Andy — his friend who has Down syndrome.
“Na kay Andie [na ‘yung medal]. He’s a very special friend, very dear to me. Sinabi ko sa kanya before the season that para sa kanya ‘yun,” said Ravena.
“He deserves it.”
Ravena has known Andie for quite a long time. Through the years, the three-time UAAP Finals MVP has been on good terms with Andy and his family.
And while the two grew closer, Andy became Ravena’s motivation to continue pushing amid the grind of being a student-cager.
“He watches our games. He is a very special person in my life. Binigay ko sa kanya ‘yun dahil he is very dear to me. He always wanted that,” shared Ravena.
“He is one of the reasons why I work hard, to make people like him happy.”
In his final two games of his collegiate career, Ravena played like a man on a mission, averaging 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in Ateneo’s sweep of UST.
One big fight for Andie, indeed.
“I kept my promise kasi sinabi ko sa kanya ‘yun even before the season started. I’m just really happy na nagawa namin ‘yun at nabigay ko ‘yung medal na pinromise ko sa kanya.”
Ravena has also vowed to continue playing for Andie until his playing days are over. After all, the important things to fight for are off the court.