Ateneo’s Smart Elite ambassadors Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal may not have achieved their goal to win a title this season, after Mac Belo’s stunning game-winner yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, but they are forever grateful to their beloved alma mater for making them the individuals that they are today.
“Siguro I’m just blessed to be part of such journey and siguro ito rin ang pinaka-special sa akin kasi nga senior and with all the adversities we faced inside the court and off the court,” Ravena, who spent 11 years of his life in Katipunan, shared when asked about his thoughts about his final UAAP game. “‘Yung mga ganoong type ng issues, it just made everything feel special for every one of us kasi it made the team very strong and made us unite as one. We fell short of the goal that we wanted to beat FEU today and play on Wednesday supposedly. Ganoon talaga pero, you know, I wouldn’t take any other team mates with what I have now to spend my senior year.”
In their last UAAP game, Ravena led all scorers with 25 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a steal while Pessumal had 15 points, six rebounds and an assist.
Pessumal, on the other hand, averaged 13.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. He was also the fourth best three-point shooter in the league with a 32.7 percent clip.
“I think being it as our last year, it’s enough said. Me and Kiefer, we’ve been playing together for 11 years in an Ateneo jersey. This last season is definitely memorable for us, definitely special,” Pessumal, who had donned the Blue and White ever since he was in pre-school, followed. “It could have not got our way and you see I’m not over the loss as you can see I’m still wearing the Ateneo jersey. That’s life, you’re going have to deal with it and got to move on.”
Having last won a title in 2012, this was inevitably going to be an adjustment phase for Ateneo, with the likes of former head coach Norman Black assuming PBA duties and several veteran players climbing up the pro ranks. Ravena and Pessumal were expected to lead the team into its new stage.
These have been challenging times for the Blue Eagles. Over the past two seasons, they have gone through a lot. In Season 76, the team failed to make the Final Four after a transition season. That also marked their first season under new head coach Bo Perasol.
Come Season 77, the team got better and even managed to top the standings. Ravena and Pessumal matured into reliable veterans, becoming the constant source of everything for the team. However, their season was cut short after the fourth-seeded NU Bulldogs beat them twice in the semis.
Season 78 was yet another roller coaster ride for the team. In Ravena and Pessumal’s final season together, the team faced plenty of controversy, such as John Apacible’s drunk-driving incident, complaints about Bo Perasol’s coaching, and Ikeh’s arrest over a personal issue. The Blue Eagles also started slow in the earlier parts of the season.
Many thought that it would shake the team down to its very core. Nonetheless, all the trials they faced eventually made them a tighter bunch. They quickly turned things around during the second round and saw many of their seldom-used players thrive in increasingly prominent roles.
“The best thing I’ve learned? Siguro, ‘yung kailangan lang talaga ng tulungan. Probably, we had one of the best games as a team with Adrian and other guys stepping up,” Ravena wholehearted shared. “Siguro, basketball is a simple sport. You need each other to win it all. So tulungan din palagi and I think team work is probably one of the reasons why I played the sport.”
“I think it’s just staying the course because there were many personal problems in the team, media-related and team-related,” Pessumal followed. “But as a player and as a team mate, all you can really do is focus and I guess all the issues we experience in the past, we learned just to brace it, stay together and keep fighting.”
Their collegiate careers may be over, but Ravena and Pessumal’s commitment to bringing together a team through thick and thin will surely be passed on to the next set of Blue Eagles.
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