Kiefer Ravena was clearly the hero who saved the NLEX Road Warriors from the Meralco Bolts, sinking a cold-blooded jumper with nine-tenths of a second left to lift his team to an 87-85 decision Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
For the super rookie from Ateneo, though, that shot of his was more than just a game-winner. It was also his way of making things up to his teammates, following a defensive lapse he had committed in the match’s final moments.
With 15.8 ticks left to play and with NLEX up 85-82, the six-foot Ravena failed to stop the six-foot-two Chris Newsome, who took advantage of his athleticism and attacked the his defender hard. That resulted in a three-point play, sending the bout to an 85-all knot.
“I made a terrible defensive play with Chris and it was very bad for me,” lamented the 24-year-old. “Hindi ko ginusto na yung effort ng buong team masasayan dahil sa wrong play ko di ba so I had to make up to the whole team.
“Buti naman na-shoot yung huling tira ko. Sobrang iba yung feeling, ecstatic.”
Luckily, he made up for it perfectly, and his teammates loved what he had done. Ravena finished the night with a game-high 21 points on an excellent 58.3 percent-shooting clip, on top of seven rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
“Kiefer just made the big shots like a veteran, like a 10-year veteran in this league,” praised NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao of Ravena. “I had no hesitation setting that plays for him because I know he will make the right decisions.
“Whether he made those shot or not, I would not have faulted him for the decisions he made.”
Aside from his end-game magic, Friday night also marked Ravena’s bounce-back outing. In their win against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last Saturday, Ravena only scored seven points, so he couldn’t be thankful enough for the trust he was given.
“Imagine that. Shooting eight percent previous game but still, coach Yeng trusted me with the last shot. Yung kumpiyansa na yun, paano ka ‘di magkakakumpiyansa ‘di ba? Kasi ikaw na lang mali dun kung wala pa,” he said.
It definitely brought a gut-wrenching yet ecstatic feeling to the crowd inside the Astrodome after Ravena made that go-ahead bucket. But he hopes that, in their future games, matches won’t go down the wire anymore.
“Honestly no, hopefully not,” the Gilas Pilipinas cager admitted.
“And as the coaches said, for the fans these types of game it’s very good. But for the players and the coaching staff, it’s not.”