Thirdy Ravena impresses in Japan B.League debut, has 13 in team's tight win

San-En NeoPhoenix emerged victorious in a pulsating 83-82 victory against the Shimane Susanoo Magic in the Matsue City Gymnasium in Matsue, Japan Saturday evening.

Thirdy Ravena, who made his much-anticipated Japan B.League debut, scored 13 points, grabbed three boards, and dished out three assists in almost 22 minutes of action.

Despite not playing in San-En's first 10 games, the 6'3 shooting guard was instrumental in his team's crucial fourth-quarter run, scoring eight of his points there.

The team, which almost blew a late eight-point lead, went out on top for only the second time this season in 11 games after Hayato Kawashima swished the game-winning free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining.

Prior to that, Magic import De'Mon Brooks capped off a 9-0 run with two freebies with 19.0 seconds remaining.

"We thought the game was over the last two minutes. It's a lesson for us," said head coach Branislav Vićentić, who was impressed with his new player.

"He was good. We were talking about Thirdy. I'm so happy he has debuted. He's one with the win. We talked about one of the excellent players and he is one of those. He was under pressure, first professional game, he still showed everything. We talked a lot because I know he can affect our game better," he added.

Ravena, who was the first Asian Quota import signed in the league, started at the two-guard and nailed his first point, a free throw, at the 8:41 mark of the first.

The former UAAP Finals MVP made his first field goal, a two-handed dunk midway through the opening chapter.

He would not see too much action in the middle quarters, but was immediately fielded to start the fourth quarter.

Ravena scored a tough one-hander, a layup, another floater, and a bank shot in the fourth, showing shades of his excellent stint with Ateneo.

"Well, definitely I'm thankful for all the supporters that watched. As you can see, I still have a lot to improve on, especially my conditioning. I'm very tired but I'm happy that the team won. That was a great game especially for the fans.," said Ravena.

He was benched by Vićentić when San-En held a 79-71 lead entering the last two minutes before the team surrendered their advantage.

The guard was inserted in the very final possession, where Magic foreign reinforcement Perrin Buford was stripped, and lost their sixth contest in 11 games.

Serbian Stevan Jerovac led San-En with 22 points, while fellow import Kyle Hunt added 15.

Brooks put up 19 markers, while Travis added 17 for Shimane.

The two teams will clash again on Sunday in the same venue.