KIEFER Ravena, the young sensation who already plays like a veteran, is not immune to rookie jitters, after all.
The NLEX freshman showed a weakness he can work on as he missed a handful of free throws that factored in the team’s 106-99 loss to Magnolia in Game Three of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
Ravena led the Road Warriors with 20 points, five assists, one board, and one steal in 32 minutes, but he made just seven of his 12 charities for a 58.3-percent clip that he can still work on.
Asked if he feels pressure while on the 15-foot line, the 24-year-old cager answered negatively, but admitted he can work on his mental focus.
“Wala naman. Wala naman (pressure)… Sabi ko naman babalik tayo sa free throw parang college,” Ravena said. “But it’s not something… we’re in the pros already, but wala naman ibang sisihin sa free throw, ikaw lang tumitira. So I take it upon myself to practice… focus mentally.”
“It’s not really more about practice but it’s really more that mental aspect of making it,” he added. “Nawawala ka sa focus, nawawala ka sa moment. Yun ang hindi pwede mawala. Kung free throw, yun lang iisipin mo. You can’t be thinking about the scoreboard, thinking about the next play.”
Ravena’s lack of mental focus on the line was most evident in the payoff period where he missed all his four free throws, including two straight in a crucial trip to the charity stripe late in the game that would’ve inched the Road Warriors to within five points, 100-95, with a little less than three minutes left.
“Siguro it comes with the pressure with the semifinals…. I am a rookie,” he continued.
Still, Ravena made up for it by keeping the Road Warriors within striking distance, scoring on a layup that nudged them to within seven points, 102-95, with a minute and 49 seconds left before the Hotshots held on.
Ravena and the Road Warriors, however, chose to move on to Game Four on Friday night at the MOA Arena.
“We have to suck it up and take it to the next game,” Ravena said. “Games like these you can’t miss too many free throws. But we have to give credit to the guys who really stepped up for Magnolia – Jio, Rome…. We were able to contain Paul Lee a little bit. But Ian really killed us again.”
“We have to adjust,” he added. “But it’s a long series. We have to take it a game at a time, prepare for Friday.”