The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles have heavily relied on seniors Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal to produce every game after the post-Fivepeat era.
Last season, Kiefer Ravena carried the Blue Eagles to the top seed in the UAAP Final Four in posting norms of 21.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.5 steals. Due to this outstanding numbers, Ravena was awarded with the MVP crown. However, the Katipunan cagers fell in the Final Four stage against eventual-champions, the National University Bulldogs.
During a press conference after Ravena was awarded with the MVP plum, he said that a championship would have been sweeter compared to getting an individual honor. “Hindi ako magdadalawang isip to trade my MVP for a championship,” he said. His stance hasn’t changed this season.
“Ang importante kasi is we get the win. Von and I just want to do everything just to help the team win. Make baskets, grab rebounds, get steals, play defense. Yun yung mentality namin ni Von,” Ravena said after the game during the post-game scrum against the Fighting Maroons.
This season, the two Smart Elite ambassadors for Ateneo, Ravena and Von Pessumal, have been carrying much of the scoring load for their team.
But in their game against their Katipunan neighbours, the Blue Eagles were able to share the wealth and distribute their offense, which is one of the challenges coach Bo Perasol is facing.
“Like what Kiefer said, we are not concerned about the individual statistics. What matters is we have a higher score than our opponents,” co-captain Von Pessumal remarked regarding the balanced production of Ateneo in their last game.
The selflessness the two captains are showing can be best seen with the defense the team imposed that limited fellow Smart Elite ambassador Jett Manuel to a scoreless outing on 0/7 shooting. Ravena was ecstatic about it when he read the statsheet. “Well Jett is a very capable scorer. Before the game, I was watching his highlights and his games during the season to see how he was going to attack. I made it a conscious effort together with the other guys going to be matched up with him to focus in on Jett himself, even on switches. We don’t want a scorer to get his groove,” he jovially disclosed.
In spite of a 4-2 record, Ravena and Pessumal’s great outings have yet to coincide in a single game. The two Smart Elite ambassadors though know that it will come one of these days. “Though sometimes, hindi kami nakakashoot pero lang importante talaga is the final score. Lalabas din yan yung makakapaglaro kami ng sabay na maganda and I know it will come when it’s really most needed,” Ravena said. Pessumal added that, “eventually, we both are going to play well and we’ll do our best to win our games.”
This Sunday, the two seniors will face their heated rivals, the De La Salle University Green Archers. It will be the two’s penultimate rivalry game in the regular season. For Ravena, he promised that this Sunday will be a classic. “It’s going to be good. For Von and I, this is our last-first encounter with La Salle. It’s going to be memorable but just like what coach Bo reminds us, it’s just one game.”
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