KIEFER Ravena proved why he’s the early Rookie of the Year frontrunner as he lifted NLEX to a 87-85 victory over Meralco to build momentum in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Displaying poise beyond his years, the 24-year-old playmaker, the second overall pick in this year’s draft hit two big shots, the second a tough turnaround jumper that proved to be the game-winner for the Road Warriors to complete their comeback from an early 18-point deficit.
The Road Warriors thus followed up a similar come-from-behind 81-78 win over Ginebra last week to get back to .500 at 4-4 as they handed the Bolts their sixth loss in eight games.
“We haven’t had easy games. Our last two games we got lucky both times,” NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said. “Kiefer just made the big shots…like somebody who’s a ten-year veteran.”
Ravena first hit a tough three-pointer off a timeout that put the Road Warriors up, 83-82, with 43 second left. After the Bolts tied it at 85, “The Phenom” again took matters into his own hands, driving on the left side, faking a spin, then turning around, before launching for the tough jumper over Chris Newsome for the dagger.
That completed another game-long brilliance for Ravena, who finished with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, seven boards, four assists, one steal, and only one turnover in 29 minutes off the bench.
Larry Fonacier added 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting – as he buried all his four three-point attempts – on top of six boards, and one block in 28 minutes, while Kevin Alas chipped in 15 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes.
It certainly took the Road Warriors a lot to come out victorious as they fell into an early 26-8 hole, but managed to climb out of in the second quarter, turning it into a nip-and-tuck battle in the second half.
Still, the Bolts looked like they were headed for an easy win as they saw themselves ahead, 82-72, with a little over five minutes left after a basket by Nico Salva, who led the Bolts with 20 points in 23 minutes off the bench.
The Road Warriors, however, went on an 11-0 blast, capped by that Ravena triple to take the lead.
JR Quinahan hit two charities to put NLEX up, 85-82, but Chris Newsome retaliated with a three-point play to knot the count one last time as it set the stage for Ravena’s game-winner.
NLEX 87 — Ravena 21, Fonacier 17, Alas 15, Mallari 12, Al-Hussaini 6, Quiñahan 6, Baguio 4, Gotladera 2, Miranda 2, Monfort 2, Uyloan 0, Soyud 0, Taulava 0
MERALCO 85 — Salva 20, Newsome 15, Amer 14, Hugnatan 10, Lanete 10, Caram 7, Canaleta 4, Hodge 3, Bono 2, Dillinger 0, Tolomia 0
Quarterscores: 10-26, 38-37, 62-65, 87-85