ILOILO – Kiefer Ravena hits two birds with one stone as he makes his debut and a homecoming at the same time in the third and last leg of the PBA All-Star week on Sunday night at the University of San Agustin gym.
The NLEX rookie sensation makes his first All-Star appearance in the city where he was born and his dad, Bong, is from as he suits up for the Visayas All-Stars who face off against Gilas Pilipinas after the Mindanao and Luzon selections had their turn.
“Sobrang saya kasi first-ever All-Star ko, sa Iloilo pa natapat,” Ravena said upon his arrival on Saturday in this Western Visayas city known for its people with an affectionate accent.
The second overall pick in the 2017 rookie draft links up with Road Warriors teammate and fellow Ilonggo Emman Monfort in the Visayas selection.
“Yung nakita ko nga yung lineup na place na pupuntahan nung All-Star tour, nung nakita kong Iloilo, parang kami ni Eman, nag-usap na kami, sabi namin chance namin ‘to makapagaro in front of our crowd, kasi yung NLEX hindi pa nakakapaglaro dito out of town,” Ravena said.
The former Ateneo star, though, was already part of the first two legs as a member of the Smart All-Stars national team, although he skipping the second one in Batangas –
On Sunday, Ravena is officially making his Visayas All-Stars debut – being the youngest member and the only rookie in the entire delegation in three-week midseason spectacle sponsored by Phoenix Fuel.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” the 24-year-old cager said. “First year ko, maglalaro kaagad ako sa…naka-tatlo agad ako na All-Star, so very thankful for the people, for the fans, for the media for including me here sa All-Star.”
“Kahit na medyo work-cation siya, nandito tayo to celebrate the success of the PBA,” he added.
Ravena and the rest of the Visayas All-Stars are certainly treating it as work, eager to reward the home fans with a victory after the the Mindanao/Luzon All-Stars and the Nationals split the first two legs.
“Syempre, syempre, gusto naming manalo dito sa Visayas leg as the Visayas team. It’s one and one, so ito Game Three, so maganda ‘to,” Ravena said with a smile. “Feeling ko magkakaroon ng serious moments talaga sa laro.”
“Medyo maliit naman yung team namin eh – Asi, Greg, June Mar, so hopefully we can take advantage of the size we have, and papantay si Emman dun,” he added with a chuckle, being part of a towering lineup anchored by June Mar Fajardo.
The All-Star week is also backed by Peak Sports Apparel, Molten, PBA Rush-Cignal, Nature’s Spring, TAGHeuer, Gatorade, and Rain or Shine.