Rookie Kiefer Ravena continued his stellar start in the big league, helping steer the NLEX Road Warriors to a 115-104 victory over GlobalPort Batang Pier in Christmas Day at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
After producing 18 points and 12 assists in his debut last December 20, the 25-year-old Phenom dropped 20 points on top of five rebounds and three steals — an outing best punctuated by a breakaway jam in the final 37 ticks.
“Kiefer will take care of himself. He knows how to take care of himself in the league,” lauded NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao of the Ateneo De Manila great.
It wasn’t a walk-in-the-park for the Road Warriors in the match though, as the Batang Pier, behind main man Stanley Pringle, were able to climb back from 12 points down and knocked within four, 99-95, with 4:20 remaining.
But then, just like in their season opener against Kia Picanto, Larry Fonacier delivered a huge triple to prevent a GlobalPort comeback and widen NLEX’s lead once more, 102-95, 17 seconds after their counterparts’ comeback.
The Batang Pier still showed signs of life afterwards behind Pringle and new guy Kelly Nabong, but Ravena’s game-sealing corner triple with 1:57 left to play propelled his side to a 109-98 lead and put the game away for good.
“We just gave ourselves and our supporters a really nice Christmas gift on Christmas day,” added Guiao. “Being able to carry our winning momentum, it’s going to be a two-week break but we’ll keep on practicing through the holidays.”
JR Quiñahan supplied 19 points and nine rebounds, Fonacier chipped in 12 markers, while Juami Tiongson provided 10 points for NLEX, who also fielded in seldom-used bigs such as Fonzo Gotladera and Michael Miranda.
“It’s giving guys like Michael Miranda and Fonza Gotladera some time. Using a big rotation is big,” said Guiao, as both cagers scored eight apiece.
Pringle led GlobalPort with 33 points and 10 rebounds, while Sean Anthony backed him up with 19 points and nine boards. Sophomore Jonathan Grey received ample time from coach Pido Jarencio and scattered 13 markers.
Both teams will return to action on January 7, 2018 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum. NLEX will face Phoenix Fuel Masters at 4:30 PM, followed by GlobalPort taking on Barangay Ginebra at the 6:45 PM slot.
NLEX 115 — Ravena 20, Quiñahan 19, Fonacier 12, Tiongson 10, Alas 9, Baguio 8, Gotladera 8, Miranda 8, Mallari 6, Monfort 5, Rios 5, Taulava 3, Al-Hussaini 2.
Globalport 104 — Pringle 33, Anthony 19, Grey 13, Nabong 9, Araña 8, Elorde 5, Guinto 4, Juico 4, Taha 4, Flores 2, Sargent 2, Gabayni 1.
Quarterscores: 25-25, 50-45, 84-76, 115-104.