IF there is one thing Kiefer Ravena wants more than anything else this season, it is to send off his well-loved coach with one big championship party and a giant cake adorned with five candles – one for each UAAP title won.
“We have to make the most of it,” said Ateneo’s sophomore star in the days leading up to UAAP Season 75, which would also be Black’s farewell campaign with the Blue Eagles before he returns to the professional league as coach of Talk 'N Text.
Black and Ravena have developed a special bond during the course of last season, when the former high-school phenom led from the front in the Eagles’ run to the title – with Black guiding him every step of the way.
No wonder then that the mere thought of losing his coach after this season pains Ravena, a thought he has been trying to block off as the season nears.
“We have to focus on the present. He’s still our coach,” said the 19-year-old combo guard, who has won a UAAP championship and a gold medal from the Southeast Asian Games – both with Black as his coach.
Black has put so much responsibility on the shoulders of Ravena during his rookie year and the teenager has proven up to the task, living up if not exceeding expectations.
“It’s so much fun coaching Kiefer,” said Black of his star, who also happens to be his godson. “He’s one of the most talented players I’ve seen in college, but he’s also unselfish so he makes the people around him better.”
Ravena, for his part, has found solace in knowing that Black would still stick around the Ateneo campus as a coaching consultant next season.
“It’s a good thing for us and the incoming coach for coach Norman to at least guide him because his system has been working for the past five, six years,” Ravena said.
But the King Eagle has turned Black’s impending departure into his biggest motivation to do well this season.
“We have to not make it a burden for us at isipin na nakakawalang-gana na,” said Ravena. “We have to make him proud, we have to win it for him, and we have to work harder.”