THESE are moments which a rookie like Kiefer Ravena and a rebuilding team like NLEX can learn a lot from.
The freshman guard said the experience the Road Warriors went through in their first-ever semifinal appearance will go a long way in Yeng Guiao's bid to turn them into legitimate title contenders.
The Cinderella party of the Road Warriors ended on Tuesday night after a 96-89 loss to Magnolia in Game Six of the best-of-seven series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Even without injured guard Kevin Alas and the ejected JR Quinahan, NLEX gave the second-seeded Hotshots problems until back-to-back turnovers by Ravena and Larry Fonacier inside the final minute sealed its doom.
But the 24-year-old rookie said NLEX can hold its head high and just learn from its mistakes in the series - Ravena's first as a pro.
“The best thing about it is that we have time to improve. It’s a tough conference, it’s a tough loss to swallow especially the last two (games), but it’s still a blessing,” said Ravena.
“Kahit papaano nag-overachieve naman kami from the losing streak nung start ng conference and finishing out here in the semis pa rin.”
Ravena didn’t really get his game going for NLEX in the do-or-die game, finishing with just nine points on 3-of-17 shooting, though he added five rebounds and five assists.
The former Ateneo standout, a two-time UAAP MVP, is not about to make any excuses and instead credited Magnolia’s defense for making things difficult for him.
“Hindi ko naman sasabihin na hindi maganda yung depensa sa akin ng Magnolia,” he said. “They really have pesky guards. So I have to be ready for that. During the whole series, I was. This endgame lang talaga.”
Still, he and the Road Warriors will greatly benefit from the experience, according to Ravena
“Ito pa rin yung mga bagay na matututo ka talaga. These are the games you take until the next conference, until the next season na ayaw mo ng maulit,” he added.
“Learn from this. And the good thing, everybody knows there’s still things to improve on.”