By Jerome Lagunzad
DUBAI — Sharing is caring.
That’s exactly what NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena proved anew on Saturday night when he played a big role in the Road Warriors’ massive 113-111 come-from-behind overtime victory over Barangay Ginebra inside the spanking Coca Cola Arena.
Pressured all game long by his Ginebra counterparts, Ravena showcased his playmaking wizardry by issuing a career-best 17 assists and serving as the main catalyst in NLEX’s spirited rally from 28 points down in the second half.
“I’m just taking what the defense is giving me,” said the two-time UAAP MVP from Ateneo, who also issued a game-high eight assists in NLEX’s 98-94 loss to powerhouse San Miguel Beer the night before.
“Kasi halos parehas na kami ng apelyido ni Scottie (Thompson) pagtapos ng laro. Siya na mismo nagsabi na aasawahin niya ako. And that was their game plan — to limit my touches and my shots.
The 17 assists are quite a lot for someone labelled as a 'ball hog' by bashers on social media. But Ravena said he merely took what the Ginebra defense gave him.
“‘Yung depensa nila, naka-clog lahat. Wala rin akong tira. So the only way is iikot ang bola, pasa-pasa. Swerte naman nakakalusot ng magagandang pasa at naisu-shoot ng mga kakampi ko. Credit to my teammates, kasi hindi naman mangyayari ‘yun kung hindi nila nasu-shoot.”
He finished with just 13 points from 10 attempts, but Ravena still made the biggest shot in regulation when he pulled up from the top of the key over Ginebra guard LA Tenorio to send the game into overtime.
“It was designed for me but maraming options,” he shared. “Ang hinahanap ko talaga si Poy (Erram) kaso na-deny nila. So I had to create my shot. Maganda ‘yung challenge sa ’kin ni LA so I had to jump a little bit higher sa normal shot ko.”
The Road Warriors got back on track and improved to 4-1, with Ravena making his presence felt on both ends in what is fast shaping up as a great comeback from an 18-month doping suspension imposed by Fiba.
“Andito ako sa stage ng career ko na gusto kong manalo lang,” said the former Ateneo superstar. “Wala naman kailangan isipin dito kundi manalo lang.”
“Siyempre gusto ko rin makabawi kay coach (Yeng Guiao) kasi ang tagal ko rin nawala. I’m just making the most out of the opportunity na andito sa’kin ngayon. Sabik na sabik ako maglaro na kahit back-to-back pa, hindi ko nararamdaman ‘yung pagod.”