KIEFER Ravena showed that he’s not just ready for the pros, but also in the international stage as he translated his sizzling start for NLEX with a superb showing off the bench for Gilas Pilipinas in its 89-84 win over Japan in their Fiba World Cup qualifying match on Sunday night.
The PBA rookie sensation, the youngest player in this current national squad at 24, continue to display maturity beyond his years as he provided a spark off the bench along with Troy Rosario to make up for a flat start by the starting five.
“Ginawa lang namin ang trabaho namin bilang second group,” Ravena said. “We saw the first group medyo walang energy. Pero that's why you have seven other players to step up. That second group really gave everything that we got.
“We didn't want Japan to separate too much especially on our home floor. We wanted to give everybody this win,” he added.
Ravena wasted no time making his presence felt as less than 30 seconds after coming in halfway through, he knocked a three-pointer that ended the drought after Japan put up its biggest lead at 20-4. Then he completed back-to-back baskets with a jumper that sparked the Gilas turnaround.
The NLEX point guard, who finished as one of only three Gilas players in double figures with 13 points, built around three triples, on top of five assists, two boards, and two steals in 26 minutes, was grateful for the trust of the coaching staff and his veteran teammates.
“In terms of preparing on the big stage, siguro malaking bagay yung araw-araw mong nakakasama yung pinakamagaling na players dito sa atin, especially with the trust of the coaching staff,” Ravena said. “Hindi mo naman makukuha yun (exposure) pag hindi nagtitiwala yung coaching staff sa’yo, yung teammates mo.”
“So I guess the preparation is just a matter of playing together, trusting the system, trusting yourself as well, so lahat naman kami, pwede mag-step up dito sa big stage,” he added. “We just didn’t want to let the crowd down. Laking bagay na binibigay na energy nila.”
Ravena especially deflected credit to under-fire naturalized center Andray Blatche and Jayson Castro for bringing Gilas home.
“You can say whatever you want to say about Andray, but he delivered tonight, which really mattered, because after this game, we made it to the second round, giving us a good position as the wins are carried over,” Ravena said.
“Malaking bagay yung ginawa ni Andray and our finisher, Jayson,” he added. “Everybody stepped up, especially the second group, having a flat start. We take this win in stride against a tough Japan team. And we learned from this that we can’t let up any lead, especially with any team.”