LIKE any great player, Kiefer Ravena was willing to take the risk with the outcome of the game on the line.
And like any great player, the ploy paid off for 'The Phenom.'
Ravena made two clutch baskets down the stretch, including the game-winner in NLEX's 87-85 come-from-behind victory over Meralco Friday night in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The NLEX rookie hit five of the Road Warriors' last seven points on the way to a game-high 21 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in the team's fourth win in eight outings that put it back in the middle of the standings.
Ravena admitted he had to gamble taking a three-pointer in the final 43 seconds with NLEX just behind by two after trailing by as many as 80-70 with four minutes left in the game at the Astrodome.
The shot went in as the Road Warrriors finally took control.
“Hindi mo alam yung outcome ng tira mo hangga't hindi mo sinusubukan. Nico (Salva) was in front of me playing good defense," Ravena said in recalling the tense moment.
"It could have been a very bad shot if it had missed. But lamang ng dalawa, so sabi ko let's go for the lead. Buti na lang suwerte at pumasok."
The former King Eagle then atoned for a defensive lapse against former Ateneo teammate Chris Newsome by burying a fadeaway jumper with .03 tenths of a second to clinch the first game-winner in his young pro career.
Before the winning shot, Newsome completed a three-point play against Ravena to tie the game for the last time at 85-all.
"It was very bad for me. And hindi ko ginusto na yung effort ng buong team ay masayang dahil sa wrong play ko. So I have to make up for the whole team. Buti naman na-shoot yung huling tira ko," he said.
The 24-year-old Ravena was grateful for the trust given him by coach Yeng Guiao, who designed the final play for his prized rookie despite going 1-of-8 from the field in their win against Barangay Ginebra last week.
"Imagine that, shooting eight percent from the previous game, and still coach Yeng entrusted me with that last shot. Paano ka naman hindi magkaka-kumpiyansa,” he said.
Guiao had nothing but praises for Ravena.
"Kiefer made the big shots just like he's a 10-year veteran in this league," he said.
"I have no hesitation designing the final play for him because I know he'll make the right decision.
And Kiefer just exactly did that.