The Ynares Center in Antipolo is a place that Kevin Alas will always remember — but for all the wrong reasons.
In that venue, he suffered both of his ACL injuries. First in Game Five of NLEX’s 2018 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals clash with Magnolia; then the other just 11 months later in a match versus sister team Meralco.
So when he returned to the venue on Wednesday as his team played Columbian, the 27-year-old followed the advice of his fellow Road Warriors to get rid of the “malas” he’s had in Ynares — by bringing a bottle of gin.
Yes, a bottle of gin.
“Alam nga nila maglalaro rito sa Ynares, so si Kiefer (Ravena), si coach Ford (Arao), sabi mag-alay daw ako ng alak, dalhin ko daw sa game. Buhos ko ‘yung alak then iwan ko ‘yung alak. So kanina may dala-dala akong alak,” Alas shared.
“Wala namang masamang maniwala eh. Malay mo ‘di ba,” added the floor general out of Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
“Pamahiin lang. Sabi nila, yung faith mo pa rin kay God, pero wala namang mawawala ‘pag naniwala ka.”
“‘Sa mga Pinoy, ‘pag may inuman sa mga kanto, ‘yung unang bukas ng gin, tapon muna ‘yan for the bad spirits,” Kiefer Ravena explained. “Lahat kami nag-agree dun. ‘Pare ganun talaga, unang bukas mo ng alak tapon mo na lahat.’
“‘Yung una tapon mo sa tansan or sa shot glass para sa bad spirits. Sabi namin ‘Kev, dalawang beses ka na na-ACL dito, basagin mo ‘yung buong bote,” he added with a chuckle. “Binasag naman niya. Somewhere dito sa labas.”
That drove the bad aura away, especially for the team. The Road Warriors overcame the Dyip’s rally from 17 down, 117-111, to post their fifth win in six games and inch closer to clinching a spot in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup.
For Ravena, Alas pouring some gin also did wonders for him. The second-generation star revealed that he had not won a game at the Ynares Center ever since he became a Road Warrior in 2017, until Wednesday.
“Since dumating ako sa NLEX, ‘di pa ko nananalo dito. Never pa ‘ko nananalo rito. ‘Yung game namin against Magnolia na na-injure siya; naglaro kami against Columbian na natambakan kami, si Adrian Forbes pa yung import namin nun; tapos Rain or Shine, si Arnett Moultrie naman import namin nun,” Ravena recalled.
“Never pa ‘ko nananalo rito — ngayon lang ako nanalo dito. Tapos si Kevin, dalawang beses na-injure dito. Kaya sabi ko, ‘Kevs, wala naman mawawala, dala ka lang pampatanggal ng bad spirits’. Pinadala namin siya tapos basag mo lang dito, wala namang mawawala sa ‘min. Eventually nag-payoff kasi nanalo kami.”
Now, Ravena hopes that they have also gotten rid of the ghost that has been haunting Alas, who has been cleared to play for the Road Warriors and is expected to return some time soon this season-ending conference.
“Oo. Medyo nahihirapan na rin si Kevin. Nakikita namin ‘yung pagpupursige niya pagdating sa laro. Bata pa siya, sobrang gustong-gusto niya pa maglaro. Injuries are part of being an athlete, but at the same time, ‘yung injuries niya mabibigat, matatagal talaga. So kami din mismo sa mga teammates niya, gusto rin namin siya makita on the floor kasi ‘yun ang nagpapasaya sa kanya eh,” he said.
“So hopefully we see him back as soon as possible.”