MANILA, Philippines – NLEX rookie Kiefer Ravena downplayed his solid outing for SMART Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers, wherein he helped the national team battle back from a double-digit deficit against Chinese Taipei on Monday.
Ravena was part of the second unit that turned things around for Gilas after the Filipinos trailed 17-3 in the first quarter. He put a lot of pressure on Chinese-Taipei’s ball-handlers, and helped trigger the Philippines’ transition game.
The former Ateneo de Manila University star gave Gilas its first lead at 28-27, off a fastbreak bucket with 7:13 left to play. He finished with nine points, five assists, and two rebounds in 15 minutes, a solid output in what was only his second game for the senior national team.
“I just tried to contribute in whatever way I can, whether playing defense with the point guard, just to make sure that when kuya Jayson (Castro) rests, ‘di dumidikit ‘yung kalaban or humahabol kami,” said Ravena after helping Gilas come away with a 90-83 victory.
“We’re just about giving energy – kami nina Calvin (Abueva), nina (Roger) Pogoy. ‘Yun naman ‘yung role namin sa team,” he added.
Ravena displayed his scoring chops – knocking down a fadeaway jumper, baiting defenders into fouls to get to the line and racing to the rim for lay-ups – but it was his work on the defensive end that gained people’s attention.
Matched up against either Yu-An Chiang or Kai-Yan Lee, Ravena was simply a pest on defense, refusing to give the opposing guards an inch. He drew an unsportsmanlike foul on Chinese Taipei’s Yi-Hsiang Chou in the second half, after he poached the ball off the guard and forced Chou to hold on to his jersey.
“Kahit ako, nagulat,” Ravena said of his work on defense.
“But sabi ko nga, kailangan talaga, you have to suck it up and just contribute,” he added. “If I can’t score, or I’m not the main scorer on the team, I have to make stops, try to get steals, try to get easy points on lay-ups.”
That Ravena played a solid stint despite being the only PBA rookie on the national team was of no surprise to head coach Chot Reyes.
“Si Kiefer, hinog na hinog na ‘yun,” said Reyes. “He’s ripe. I’m not surprised at all.”
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