PAO Javelona has shrugged off a growing reputation as a ‘Kiefer stopper’ after once again showcasing his ability to contain Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 78.
Proving once again that he is one of the premier defenders in college basketball, Javelona limited Ravena to just six points in the first half - and to 7-of-26 shooting the entire game - on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ravena, however, had a final say in their latest match-up, coming up with the final baskets of regulation and each of the two overtime periods to lead the Blue Eagles to a thrilling 74-70 win.
Still, that has not stopped people from praising Javelona as the defender who had the most success trying to contain college basketball's biggest star at the moment.
Javelona, playing his final year with the Bulldogs, was quick to play down the tag, saying he is simply doing his role for an NU squad that, after losing top players like Troy Rosario and Glenn Khobuntin, needs to thrive on defense.
“Wala naman. Like I said before, discipline lang. Ginagawa ko lang na mag-stay in front sa kanya. ‘Yun lang,” said Javelona.
“Binibigyan ako ng role nila coach, talagang pinagbubutihan ko. ‘Yung mindset ko kanina, depensahan ko lang talaga si Kiefer,” he added.
Ravena acknowledged Javelona as a great defender and attributed his success to to the meticulous preparations the entire NU team does against opponents.
“Pao studies a lot. He watches a lot of games. That goes with the management of NU. They really prepare their players well,” said Ravena.
Javelona insisted guarding Ravena remains a difficult task because of his wide skill set.
“Sobrang hirap. Ang hirap. Hindi mo siya ma-stop. Malilimit mo siya pero mahihirapan ka pa rin kasi marami siyang nagagawa sa court,” said Javelona.
“Hindi ko naman binabalewala ‘yung iba pero si Kiefer talaga ‘yung isa sa mga magagaling,” he added.
Despite a relatively good outing on defense, the fact that Ravena managed to make the big shots in the final stretch still eats up Javelona, more so the looping three-pointer the Ateneo star made late in regulation with Javelona's hand on his face.
“Tingin ko, hindi ko nagawa trabaho ko. Kasi talo kami. Lalo na ‘yung last shot nung fourth quarter. Nagkulang ako. Sana ginalingan ko na lang para hindi ma-shoot ‘yung last shot,” said Javelona.
Ravena later paid tribute to Javelona's defense.
“He really gave me a hard time,” Ravena admitted. “Kapag nakaka-shoot ako sa kanya, parang ang sarap ng feeling especially that three-point shot that sent the game into overtime.”
Despite a 0-3 start, Javelona said he is taking the cue from NU coach Eric Altamirano who he said remained positive about the team’s title-retention bid.
“Sobrang positive ni coach sa amin. Sobrang tiwala niya sa amin. Heads up lang daw. Makakabalik din kami kahit anong mangyari," he said. "Sabay manalo, sabay rin matatalo."