JOEY Mente may not be aware of the fact that he served as an inspiration to a young Kiefer Ravena.
The NLEX rookie disclosed having the chance to watch Mente during his heyday and was in fact the one player who actually made him believed that, yes, small men can fly.
Mente, of course, became known for his daredevil ways and high-wire acts, and emerged as the PBA slam dunk champion during the 2001 All-Star game.
“Napanood ko pa siya, lalo na sa slam dunk contest,” related Ravena, who was around seven years old at that time.
“Bata pa kami noon, tapos maliliit din. Kaya parang siya yung naging inspirasyon din na kakayanin din naming mag-dunk.”
Now a budding superstar and with a promising pro career ahead of him, Ravena, 24, thought it would be the perfect time for him to give back as he graced the benefit golf tournament for the ailing former player.
The 42-year-old Mente has gone home in his native Northern Samar where he’ll continue to undergo chemotherapy in his fight against the Big C.
US-based former PBA player Mark Telan, who is currently in town for a vacation, organized the meet dubbed ‘Fore For Mente’ held at the Valley Golf and Country Club during the Holy Week.
More than 50 participants showed up for the one-day event that was able to raise a total of P75,500, which was handed over to Mytea Mente, who came over on behalf of his ailing brother.
Kiefer and his father Bong Ravena were among those who participated in the tournament. The elder Ravena was a teammate of Telan when TnT Katropa won its first ever PBA title during the 2003 Philippine Cup.
Other players who showed up included former Ginebra stalwart Vince Hizon, Telan’s fellow La Salle alums Rafael Dinglasan and Alvin Magpantay, Globalport deputy coach Joe Ward, former Phoenix mentor Ariel Vanguardia, and ex-University of Santo Tomas team manager Clarence Aytona.
Telan’s friends from show business such as Ogie Alcasid, Dingdong Avanzado, Chad Borja, and John Estrada didn’t play but extended financial support.
Jimmy Dy emerged champion in Class A, Randolf Somera ruled Class B, while Vanguardia topped Class C.
She Pinero ruled the distaff side of the meet, also made possible by the support of Valley Golf and Country Club led by president Abraham ‘Abet’ dela Cruz.
Vanguardia, who handled Telan during his stint at TnT, said everyone is with Mente in the biggest fight of his life.
“I was not able to handle Joey as he was with different teams then,” he said. “But he is a jolly, humble person and a friend.”
The success of the tournament deserves an encore, and Vanguardia said he will team up with Telan and Aytona to stage another benefit golf event for Mente.
“We are planning a bigger one soon in cooperation with Deemples App Philippines and Skynet Travel with Clarence (Aytona). “So hopefully, we’ll get more participants.”
Blessed are the good Samaritans.