Ailing Kiefer Ravena plays down fourth quarter takeover in crucial win for NLEX
Kiefer Ravena delivered in the clutch despite feeling unwell in Game 4 due to the daily grind of the semis. Jerome Ascano

KIEFER Ravena showed his own version of the “flu game” on Friday night, lifting NLEX to a 91-79 win over Magnolia in Game Four of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.

The young Road Warriors rookie sensation came into the best-of-seven series excited of the prospect of playing games every other day, but the daily grind finally took its toll on the 24-year-old cager on Friday.

“Uy, okay ‘to, araw-araw yung game…pero ganito pala dito,” Ravena said after the game.

“Pag gising ko kanina, masama na pakiramdam ko,” he added.

But that didn’t stop from putting up a mini-version of what Michael Jordan did in Game Five of the 1997 NBA Finals when the GOAT exploded for 38 points despite nursing a fever to lead Chicago to the win against Utah.

Ravena took over for the Road Warriors down the stretch, pumping in 11 of his 20 points in the payoff period, including nine of his team’s last 11 points in the final five minutes of the game.

“Siguro it (taking over) comes with the flow of our system, but when push comes to shove, kung kailangan, eh ‘di kailangan nating mag-step up,” Raven said. “Larry hit a big three-pointer, Alex hit another three pointer. Kevin—he was being his old self na talagang nageenjoy, really making good decisions on the pick and roll.”

“Nagco-complement lahat yon kasi nadadalian yung shooters tumira, si Kevin nakaka-atake for the kickouts. Raul Soyud was really crucial for this game na may threat kami sa stretch four to match Aldrech [Ramos'] position,” he added.

Ravena scored on a layup that gave the Road Warriors their biggest lead at 82-65, then when the Hotshots pulled to within 11 points, 88-77, Ravena retaliated with a triple to seal the deal with a minute and 42 seconds left.

“Nalagay namin yung sarili namin sa sitwasyon na maganda eh,” the former Ateneo star said. “Na medyo malaki yung lamang namin coming into the fourth quarter. That lead really was something na ayaw kong pakawalan kasi ang hirap kalaban ng Magnolia eh.”

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“Pag lumalamang sila, grabe sila mag alaga ng lamang,” he added. “And for us to get better, we have to learn how to take care of leads. Hindi pwede na lalamang ka ng malaki, bibigay ka tapos ilalaban mo sa dulo.”

And the daily grind continues for Ravena on Saturday in practice on the eve of Game Five on Sunday in Antipolo.

“Hopefully we carry this momentum,” Ravena said. “The series is tied, it’s a best-of-three and take this one, enjoy and savor it for a bit, go back to the drawing board, a few hours wake up, practice because we know that Magnolia will make those adjustments.”

“So hopefully, we’d take care of business sa side namin,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos