KIEFER Ravena was absolutely the alpha dog for Ateneo in the UAAP. UP had Paul Desiderio in his time with the university, but Bo Perasol is still waiting for someone from the current Fighting Maroons roster to step up.
"Ang kaibahan ng Ateneo sa UP, alam nila kung sino si Phenom," he told Coaches Unfiltered.
"When you're talking about Von (Pessumal), (Chris) Newsome, Nico (Elorde), Juami (Tiongson), alam nila yung papel nila. Alam nila na pag crunch time, hawak na ni Kiefer yung bola at alam nila na pag kailangan na umi-score, alam nila na si Kiefer yun."
The 48-year-old mentor shared his time in Katipunan as he had the luxury of handling the Ateneo program for three seasons from 2013 to 2015, and said that even when he arrived, he knew what Ravena could bring to the table.
"Hindi ko pa masyado kilala si Kiefer when I took over Ateneo kasi galing ako sa PBA noon. Pero una pa lang, makikita mo kaagad kung ano yung potential ng bata and more than that, kasi yung strength ng mind and heart ni Kiefer, mararamdaman mo na. The good thing about that was everybody recognizes it and lahat nararamdaman yun, that’s why some of them defer to him," he said.
And Ravena surely backed that up, winning the UAAP MVP plums in his last two years with the Blue Eagles.
Aside from the numbers, the 6-foot guard walked the talk to steer his crew, much to the delight of Perasol.
"Si Kiefer, alam naman niya kung ano'ng responsibilidad niya. He takes accountability as that kind of person for the team because he plays good defense, he makes the plays, he makes the right passes pag kailangan naman. So for me, he established himself as that and everybody followed him and we just took it from there," he said.
It's not for a lack of talent, but someone has yet to really seize that baton for UP. The Maroons are a talented bunch, from holdovers Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero to senior center Bright Akhuetie of Nigeria, with incoming players Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano from National University-Nazareth School and Joel Cagulangan from La Salle.
Perasol is hoping the Maroons can soon develop into a solid program such as the Eagles.
"One thing that I readily noticed right away when I took over Ateneo is it was already Ateneo. The program was there, the culture was there, and alam mo na kahit walang coach, baka pwede pang tumakbo eh. Alam mo yung kultura of sharing the ball, alam mo yung kultura ng extra work, alam mo yung kultura ng team-first, playing good defense dahil nandoon na eh," he said, crediting his predecessor Norman Black for instituting these foundations.
And he's happy that unlike then, support has been overflowing in Diliman.
"You cannot build a program without funds and you cannot just make it happen in a vacuum. You can say na let's build a program, but if you do not have funds, just like in business, you can build a business and start small pero ang game mo mababa lang talaga," Perasol said.
"The good thing about UP is there’s millions of alumni all over the world and there are a lot of successful people and businessmen who are willing to help. They just wanted to see a program, they just wanted to see some improvements, they just wanted to see some direction."