NOT even an impending Game One win against a seasoned Magnolia side could take Kiefer Ravena’s mind off his injured ‘kuya’ in Marc Pingris after the veteran forward was stretchered out in NLEX’s 88-87 win on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Pingris tweaked his knee badly in the 4:39 mark of the game after trying to go past JR Quinahan and was sent to the dugout before heading to Medical City for an MRI.
As soon as the buzzer sounded, Ravena put aside all celebrations of that massive victory to rush to Pingris’ side who was already inside the ambulance headed to hospital.
Ravena spent a few minutes with Pingris before the ambulance finally took off.
“I couldn’t wait for the buzzer to sound, I was waiting na sa ilalim ng ring to really rush kasi sabi nga paalis na. So hopefully, prayers up for Kuya Ping. It’s always sad to see a player go down like that. Hopefully he just keeps getting better and better after what happened tonight,” said Ravena.
They may be fierce opponents in this series but Ravena’s relationship with Pingris goes way beyond the PBA. According to the former Ateneo star, it was Pingris who took him in and helped him adjust to the high level of play in national team competition back when he was just a neophyte to the Gilas program.
“Pinagdasal ko lang si Ping. Kuya Ping is a very big part of my career. As a young guy coming to Gilas, not really experienced a lot of games with that level of competition, he was one of those guys together with kuya Jayson (Castro) who really went the extra mile into mentoring me and giving me encouraging words,” added Ravena.
Pingris’ injury somewhat dampened the big victory of the Road Warriors for Ravena who played a huge role at crunch time for NLEX.
Ravena made two clutch plays as he attracted multiple Hotshot defenders before kicking it out to a wide open Alex Mallari, who calmly sank the go-ahead three pointer to give NLEX an 86-84 lead with 14 seconds to go.
He then got a crucial defensive rebound on the other end over Ian Sangalang and calmly sank two free throws to put the game out of reach.
There wasn’t any point of celebrating too much for Ravena though as he braces for a red-hot Magnolia fight back when they meet again at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday.
“Siyempre, mabigat yung panalo na ganun momentum wise but we cant celebrate too much. We have a game on Monday rin, we have to recover and rest,” Ravena said as he finished with 16 points on 4-10 shooting.
“This series doesn’t end in one game and just savor the moment and the opportunity that we were able to get in Game One.”