Kiefer Ravena had the unenviable task of carrying the load for NLEX late in their 2020 PBA Philippine Cup clash, Wednesday night, after the Road Warriors lost a total of four players — including three of their main options.
The team lost veteran big man JR Quiñahan first, then Kevin Alas as they both fouled out. Jericho Cruz followed with less than three minutes left in the game after suffering an apparent ankle injury.
That took its toll on Raven, who was visibly exhausted. But he did all he could, and even gave his side a chance to save themselves from a 22-point collapse by giving the Road Warriors a 99-97 lead with 1:17 to go.
The 6-foot guard could only do so much, though. NLEX lost, 103-101, no thanks to the pivotal four-point play by Paul Lee with 32.5 seconds left to play, off the sixth foul of forward Tony Semerad.
Ravena logged a total of 30 minutes and 48 seconds and finished with a game-high 27 points on 47.4-percent shooting from the field. He also had three rebounds, two assists, and a steal against six turnovers.
“Dahil nga he had to take on the scoring burden and play defense on the other end at the same time, talagang nasagad siya,” said head coach Yeng Guiao on the 27-year-old, the morning after the loss that sent them to 0-2.
“Kasi wala na nga si Kevin, wala pa si Jericho, tapos mga kasama niya rookie pa, sina Mike Ayonayon. Nawala pa si JR. I think that burden is going to take a lot out of you.”
Guiao did admit that Ravena has yet to regain his form since he is still adjusting to his buffed-up physique, which has made him a topic among hoop fans’ discussions online.
“In terms of getting in shape, he’s not one hundred percent but he’s close to getting there. Isa pa kasing nangyari kay Kiefer, nag-bulk up siya, nagdagdag siya ng muscles,” said Guiao.
“I think he knows for himself, he will feel it kung ano ang talagang kailangan niyang body composition niya. I think he’s trying out… He wants to get stronger without losing his quickness. Last time kasi medyo mas slim siya, pero hindi muscle, wala siyang muscle. Ngayon mukha siyang mabigat, pero muscle naman.”
Guiao understands Ravena’s goal in bulking up and gaining muscle mass. Still, the 62-year-old has some advice.
“Ang sinasabi ko rin sa kanya is don’t sacrifice your quickness,” said the former Gilas Pilipinas head coach.
“Alam naman ng mga players kung anong body type na they can play at their best.”