What gives Kiefer Ravena confidence during crunch time?
MANILA, Philippines—As impervious to pressure as he may seem, Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena still feels nervous when the clock winds down and the ball is in his hands with the game is still on the line.
But what calms Ravena amid pressure-packed situations is the faith his coaches and teammates in him to deliver.
“Of course,” Ravena acknowledged when a reporter asked if he feels the pressure during tense situations before adding, “but I guess I don’t feel nervous as much knowing my coaches and teammates are the first ones to believe in me so at least that eases off the pressure, it eases off the nervousness.”
True enough, the Blue Eagles’ last two wins – a victory over University of the East in overtime Sunday and a thriller over University of Santo Tomas last Wednesday – had Ravena’s fingerprints all over it.
Ravena, the UAAP Press Corps-Accel Quantum Plus/316 Player of the Week, poured in a career-high 38 points, including the game-tying jumper that forced extra session and a clutch 3-pointer late in OT, to go along with nine assists in the win over the Red Warriors.
His scintillating performance came just four days after beating the Growling Tigers with a high-looping shot with only 3.7 seconds remaining.
“I always give it to the leader who’s Kiefer. He’s always going to be the one who’s going to lead. It doesn’t matter if he’s going to score or not. He’s just the epitome of showing the can-do attitude regardless of the situation,” his head coach Bo Perasol said.
“Once our coaches like coach Ronnie and coach Bo call the play for me and my teammates telling me ‘I can do it and I have done it before’ that really gives me the confidence,” the fourth-year guard Ravena said after Ateneo dug itself out of a 21-point hole.
Ravena, coming off a disappointing stint last year where the Blue Eagles missed the Final Four, has been a man on a mission and so far he’s taken his team atop the standings with a 6-1 record at the end of the first round.
But as great of a player as he is, the 6-foot Ravena, an early favorite to win the MVP plum, knows he can’t do it alone.
“If not for my teammates giving me the confidence, I won’t be able to do those things. It’s really just them. We had 19 assists so good for our team. Von shot the lights out and that’s really big for us it came at the most opportune time,” Ravena, who averaged 27.5 points, 7 rebounds and 6.5 assists in his previous two games, said.
“I get my confidence from my teammates and as a leader you don’t want to be a burden to your teammates even if you’re shooting two-of-nine you don’t want to show that you’re struggling.”
Ravena turned things around in the second half after missing his seven of nine attempts from the field in the first two quarters. He shot eight-of-20 from the floor but went 19-of-25 at the free throw line – the most since former Eagle Chris Tiu made 17-of-19 six years ago.
After calmly hitting clutch shot after clutch shot time and time again, Ravena still acknowledged the presence of pressure.
Perhaps he’s just that good.
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