Kiefer Ravena relieved to get monkey off his back with PBA comeback
MANILA, Philippines–Shelved for 16 months, Kiefer Ravena picked up where he left off in his return to duty for the NLEX Road Warriors on Saturday night.
“I got that monkey off my back in the PBA,” he told reporters when asked about his long layoff from the league.
Ravena, who was projected to finish as one of the top rookies last season, finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists—finishing with most points among the Road Warriors’ local cast.
Interestingly, though, Ravena’s first thoughts on the game gravitated on just how lucky they were able to dodge a bullet in their conference opener.
“I’m just happy more than anything else,” he said. “We know how tough Phoenix is. We really had to [work doubly harder] during the end.”
“We were lucky that Eugene (Phelps) had early trouble. We were able to pull away, and by the time he came back, we were already enjoying a cushion. Good thing we got stops that we needed at the perfect time,” he said.
But aside from those stops, it was Ravena’s playmaking that actually greased NLEX’s counterattacks down the stretch—ones that kept their foes in the backseat just as the clock expired.
“He’s only going to get better,” the young guard’s mentor Yeng Guiao said in a separate interview. “This is not his best.”
Guiao said that Ravena’s knack for scoring makes him an automatic threat on the floor. This advantage opens up options in the form of his role players, who during that match turned out to be Paul Varilla and Philip Paniamogan among others.
Both lesser-known Road Warriors delivered twin digit scores by game’s end.
“That’s something we’ve been missing without Kiefer. We didn’t have that threat, that steadiness in the end-game,” Guiao said.
“A guard who can bring the ball down and make decisions. This time we have it,” he added.
“We can be pretty solid in the end.”
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