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One Game At A Time

Raising good kids and not just phenoms

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WHEN your college friends send you text messages out of the blue, it’s usually important.

Nini Santos Borja, who owns the Intermatrix copy centers sent me this message: “Would you be interested to be in Bottomline taping June 5, 7 p.m.? Kiefer Ravena is guest and Boy (Abunda) would be delighted to see you.” I saw it as a great opportunity to reconnect with my Ateneo batchmates and get to know the outstanding Ravena a little more outside of the basketball court.  Nini and Boy have been close since college in the ’70s and have remained such to this day.

Bottomline, aired Saturdays 12 midnight on ABS-CBN and 1 p.m. on ANC, is Abunda’s talk show that’s not limited to show business personalities. Abunda is a deft interviewer and prepares well for any subject. It was no surprise to me that he was ready to talk basketball with Ravena even if his own sporting pursuits were limited to fitness routines at home.

Ravena enters his third year with the Ateneo Blue Eagles as a Communication Technology Management major.  In his one-on-one with Abunda after some teammates and friends tossed some opening questions, Ravena proved to be quite an insightful subject, revealing a maturity beyond his 19 years.  He is, of course, more known for his hardcourt exploits where as early as his grade school years people were already talking about him.

It was Ravena’s Ateneo high school coach Jamike Jarin that started to call him a “phenom,” short for phenomenon and in synch with today’s hoop lingo. At first, Ravena’s mom Mozzy, the former volleyball player and now TV analyst, felt uncomfortable when the tag stuck.  She didn’t want to put undue pressure on her son to live up to the name.

But Ravena made the sobriquet stick as he played stellar roles in high school and in two championship with the Blue Eagles.  Last Saturday against La Salle in the Flying V Filoil tournament, Ravena uncorked 31 markers in a dazzling display of hoop virtuosity.  He has added a few more moves that will be handy when the UAAP opens on June 29.

When asked if he was ready to be the leader of a team vying for a sixth straight UAAP title against very formidable opposition, Ravena explained that “Ateneo has never been about being somebody’s team. It’s about everybody pitching in.”  But the spotlight of this year’s campaign will understandably be on him and Ravena said that “he has accepted that role but needs the help of the whole team.”

Despite all his skills, awards and endorsements, Ravena feels that his foremost responsibility is to be a “good son to his parents.” Mozzy and former PBA star Bong Ravena have indeed bequeathed great sporting genes but they have also molded a son who has his priorities and responsibilities organized in the context of a burning passion for the game.  Family is Ravena’s refuge and comfort zone for bonding and advice on how to deal with the ups and downs of his sport.

“My father told me to always respect the game,” Ravena explained, “This means giving everything I have when I play.”  It also means caring for those who idolize him like his fans club and for simple folk like Trops, the fishball vendor he helped by giving him a better cart to move his goods around.

As parents, our dream is to see our children become “phenoms” as accountants, entrepreneurs, writers, doctors, lawyers, athletes or whatever field they choose.  But more importantly, we want them to become phenomenal people who are grounded on good values.   We all want them to become Kiefer Ravenas in their own ways.


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