UNKNOWN to many, Kiefer Ravena had a hand – small as it may be – in Ateneo successfully regaining the UAAP juniors basketball championship on Friday.
The Blue Eaglets’ so-called ‘Big Three’ of Mike Nieto, Matt Nieto, and Jolo Mendoza disclosed how Ravena invited them to a workout a day after the team lost the opener of its title series against the National University Bullpups.
“Tinext kaming tatlo ni Jolo and Mike, may workout daw sila kaya sabi sa amin, sumama na rin kami,” Matt recalled.
“Kaya gumising kami ng 8 a.m. Sabado ‘yun after kaming matalo. Workout tapos usap kami. Pinakain pa nga niya kami ng free breakfast sa UP Town (Center). Nag-usap-usap lang kami. He told stories tapos nagbigay ng motivation,” Matt bared.
“Gumawa rin kami ng sariling plays na kapag nagkaroon ng broken play, anong gagawin.”
Ravena was in attendance during the title-clinching 90-73 win as the Blue Eaglets reclaimed the championship last won by the school in 2010 behind a team led by Ravena no less.
Matt acknowledged Ravena’s words of encouragement and gesture helped inspire the team.
“Alam naman natin na si Kiefer is one of the biggest names in the country. Lahat ng inspiration niya and stories, na-motivate talaga kami ni Mike. Pati ‘yung mga workouts niya, nakatulong talaga,” said Matt, who shared a tight hug with Ravena after the game.
Mendoza, who scored a game-high 30 points in the game, echoed Matt’s statements.
“Hindi lang kasi siya magaling maglaro. Magaling rin siya magbasa ng laro,” Mendoza said.
“Sinabi ko hindi kami aabot dito kung hindi dahil sa kanya. Pero binigay pa rin niya ‘yung credit sa mga coaches and teammates. Pero alam namin na kahit maliit na percent ng pagkapanalo namin, dahil sa kanya,” said Mendoza.
The Nieto twins played their final year in high school this season and will soon be joining Ravena and the Blue Eagles when they move to the college ranks.