The Ateneo Blue Eagles defeated the La Salle Green Archers 79-62 last Sunday, August 28, 2011, catapulting them to their 11th win in the 74th season of the UAAP. Among those that have contributed consistently to their wins is freshman Kiefer Ravena. Get to know “The Phenom” a little better – Move.PH puts Kiefer on the spotlight.
5 Things you didn’t know about Kiefer Ravena
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
"Probably my height. I’m 6 ft , I’ve always wanted to grow a little taller, play basketball easier. As I said, I wanted to play in the NBA. I think that’s the only – not to be boastful or anything – it’s the height factor that I’m lacking to compete in that kind of competition in the States."
If you have 24 hours to go anywhere, where would you go and what would you do? You can bring one person.
"I would probably go to the Bahamas. I’d just bring myself so it’s fair. No favorites. Just chill. It’s a place where you just relax, enjoy the view of beaches. Just to get out of the city life."
What do you consider to be your best game?
"Of course it has to be a win! Individually, I had a triple-double during my high school career. My 4th year, I had a triple-double against Adamson. But overall, I’d probably say during Ateneo vs. NU this season where we had 30 assists…something like that. So it was fun to be in that game and the ball was just moving around, everyone having fun. For me, that’s the best."
What do you consider to be your worst game?
"Adamson. That was the only time I had zero points since I started playing basketball competitively. It was surprising for me. I know I could’ve done better…it was that kind of surprising. But we won so that’s what’s important."
Who are you closest to in the team and what role do they play in your life?
"Number three, probably Raymond Austria. Just the team captain. Being the team captain says a lot about him, leadership on and off the court. He’s just a good friend. Very humble, nice to be with.
Number 2 is Tonino Gonzaga. He’s just the clown of our team, just keeps everyone happy, never leaves practice without a smile, without a laugh. So he gives us that extra push. His work ethic is through the roof so he’s someone I really look up to with his work ethic.
And number one is Von Pessumal. He’s been a brother to me. We’ve been together for the past 8 yrs, 10 years. Coz during my grade 7 we were teammates already. So that’s grade 7, 1st yr, 2nd yr, 3rd yr, 4th yr…and now six years. Every league we’re teammates. He’s always been there, we just hang out. He’s been my RP teammate also so we’re just like brothers.”
Kiefer Ravena answers questions at the Moro Lorenzo Gym, Ateneo, August 28, 2011
MANILA, Philippines - It’s about you (taking) the shot when nobody wants to take it.”
No, these words were not uttered in a bar or club on a random Friday night. This is an actual conversation in the Ravena household I had with Kiefer Ravena, the 17-year-old Ateneo freshman who is causing quite a stir, not just on the hardcourt, but also all over Twitter and Facebook for his basketball prowess.
The Philippines is right smack in the center of a post-Paris Hilton Apocalyptic curve, a Philippine Dragon Boat controversy, and an upswing in the UAAP games with Ateneo taking full glory with eight straight wins, yet Kiefer aka “The Blue Mamba” has still managed to set everyone abuzz. A new college basketball superstar is born.
He arrived quite early at the PhilStarSupreme shoot, so we had to rush things because he had school to attend at 11:30 a.m. Totally unaffected by success, the boy wonder has been doing the one thing he’s loved all his life, giving him a quiet sense of confidence. Again, let me reiterate that he is all of 17, about 6 feet tall, and on the lanky side. But his talent, and how he has captured the hearts of UAAP fans, is something that is the stuff of legend.
As soon as he geared up in Nike’s latest collection of hoodies and shirts, I learned that at 4 years old, he stopped playing with dinosaurs and turned to basketball. He enrolled at the Milo Best Center camp and hasn’t looked back since. At 7 years old he was in the La Salle varsity team, and at 12 he transferred to Ateneo. When he was 13, he made history by becoming the youngest player to be chosen for the junior team, the Ateneo Blue Eaglets. During a championship game, he made history yet again at that same age by scoring an unprecedented 22 points. As if that weren’t enough, when he turned 15, he broke his own record and scored 33 points. I am channeling my inner Quinito Henson here.
However, Kiefer is modest about his own accomplishments and says, “I really owe it to my teammates. They’re all extremely talented players and we really play well as a team.”
MVP in his early years
“When he was in grade six, MVP (yes, that’s Manny V. Pangilinan to us) talked to my husband, Bong about our little boy,” says Kiefer’s mom Mozzy, who joined us at the shoot. The discussion was about MVP’s keen interest in Keifer’s talents and his desire for him to transfer from La Salle to Ateneo.
Mozzy is bubbly and very outspoken about her son, proud of the fact that their household had been able to maintain a sense of normalcy. “I make sure to give them errands, ask them to clean the house and make sure they are responsible family members,” she says. Mom Mozzy (she didn’t know her name was slang for “balls,” meaning strength) shares stories about Kiefer as a child.
Kiefer indeed has the whole world talking, becoming a global Twitter trend almost overnight.
“As a toddler, he didn’t doodle. He drew courts and set plays, and played coach with his dad. He tagged along to his dad’s coaching seminars. His mind works in a different way, I guess, shaped by his childhood. It just really came naturally,” says the proud mother of three athletes in the family, including Kiefer’s younger brother Thirdy, a Blue Eaglet who is taller than him, and sister Dani, a grade school volleyball player. “It’s all a game. It is very normal for us,” she states.
On-cam, he is a natural. Like any athlete, he is at ease with his body, unafraid of the camera. In fact, he is quite photogenic. Right now his priorities are his studies and sports, naturally. We ask him if has any plans of entering show business, as most athletes who attain superstardom usually do. He shrugs it off and just gives me a shy smile.
While conversing with Kiefer, I noticed his tendency to punctuate his sentences with “po” and “opo,” not because he sees me as an elder, but because of his upbringing as a respectful young Pinoy, as opposed to some artistas who are merely trained to speak that way. I foresee endorsements lined up at the door. The changing of the guards for new heroes, in sports or otherwise, can be quite fast.
In Ateneo, he feels pretty normal. None of the celebrity treatment you’d expect reserved for young superstars like him. On Twitter, one of his classmates jokingly tweeted after a game, “Now no professor will ever give you failing marks!” I guess that is why he shines even brighter. It is his skill and his attitude towards life and sport that make him stand out.
Ateneo University team manager Paolo Trillo put it best when he said, “It’s a given that Kiefer is athletic and has exceptional skills, but what sets him apart is his basketball IQ and hard work. He is a very mature player for his age, that is why he has what it takes to control a game.”
We can only watch in astonishment.
Sky High: The Blue Eagle rookie begins his ascent towards athletic greatness.
Michael G. Yu, special to InterAKTV · Sunday, August 21, 2011
Flashback to July. The Ateneo Blue Eagles were playing their first game of the season against the Adamson Falcons, and debuting that day was a young man who needed no introduction. His performance in the summer’s pre-season tournaments left every Ateneo fan giddy at the thought of what he would bring to the big stage. They were all set to be amazed.
Kiefer Ravena left them astounded alright, but for all the wrong reasons. The stat line of his first UAAP game hardly mattered: 0-for-3 from the field, one rebound, one assist and zero points in his first 14 inconsequential minutes at the college level.
His play was so tentative, so lost, that Coach Norman Black decided to keep him on the bench the entire fourth quarter. His debut was anything but phenomenal and it left a few Ateneo fans whispering, “Ken Barracoso, is that you?” As disappointed as he was in his performance, Ravena had a ready reply.
Good things come to those who wait.
In his very next game against the De la Salle Green Archers, the Phenom had his first taste of redemption. At the end of the next 14 or so minutes of his Seniors career, his stat line was much more meaningful: 22 points, four rebounds, one assist and three steals, a full game’s worth of stats in just one half of play.
And through the remainder of the first round, Kiefer played enough stellar basketball to establish himself as runner-up for a prestigious award. No, not for Rookie of the Year, but for the Most Valuable Player award. If he does go on to win it, he would be the first rookie to do so in the history of the league.
Fast forward to August. Ateneo’s first game of the second round was against a team that they had blown out only a week earlier. This time around, though, the FEU Tamaraws lived up to their pre-season billing and proved to be a worthy challenger to the Blue Eagles.
“The first time we were really, really threatened (this season),” according to Black. Not surprisingly, one of the Tamaraws’ defensive priorities was to stop Kiefer. In building a 13 point halftime lead, they had limited Ravena to a hauntingly familiar stat line: 0-for-5 from the field, two rebounds and one assist in 13 minutes.
Faced with what would have been their first defeat of the season, the Blue Eagles clawed their way back into the game and in the middle of it all was the Phenom. He did his best Ryan Buenafe impression and scored two impossible baskets in the final minute of the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime and eventually, steal the win from the shocked Tamaraws. At the first opportunity presented to him, Ravena embraced the responsibility of being Ateneo’s Mr. Clutch and delivered when the team needed him the most.
Black referred to the come-from-behind win as a test of the team’s character. Not only did the Blue Eagles pass with flying colors, they also carried that collective swagger into their next game and completely manhandled UST. Fulfilling a day’s work in an efficient 22 minutes, Ravena comfortably sashayed his way to enough steals and breakaway baskets to sit out the entire fourth quarter. It may have been the second time he’s done so this season, but for the very first time, it was under circumstances much more to his liking.
In just a little over a month, Kiefer has come a long way from his lackluster debut, one that he will probably never forget. But everything seems to be falling into place for him. With every steal, every jumper, every veteran-like decision on the court, he erases each sliver of doubt that had begun to take root that discouraging July afternoon.
Instead, he has learned a very significant lesson. There is no room for tentativeness, no point in deferring to the team’s veterans. Kiefer needs to channel his unique basketball talent and do everything he can to achieve what has been expected of him since the beginning of the season, that is, play a pivotal role in the Blue Eagles’ quest for a fourth straight UAAP crown. And in so doing, he will be able to bask in the celebration of a championship that would personally be, well, what else but his first.
When Ateneo de Manila University sailed to its ninth straight win in Saturday’s face-off against the University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers, many cheered. But one man in particular couldn’t wipe the grin off his face.
Properly chuffed, Bong Ravena looked as if he himself had put in motion the unstoppable Eagles.
Well, maybe he did, by being dad to court rock star, Kiefer.
Ambushing him for a brief talk, Yahoo! College Hoops asked the elder Ravena if there’s anything he’d like to say about his son’s game.
He smiled and said, “Keep on playing hard. Huwag maging kumpiyansa and, of course, respect your opponent.”
Living by the old man’s words
Certainly, his son lives by his old man’s words of wisdom.
Said the 17-year-old said of his on-court approach, “In every game, every team expects to win. We just have to focus, never give up and give our best in all our games.”
Indeed, strong contender or not, Ravena and the Loyola squad give their all in every match.
That is something that’s needed because the elder Ravena, a former PBA Rookie of the Year, says a four-peat victory is possible for the Blue Eagles if they continue to work hard and keep their eye on their goal.
They may be unstoppable now, but it takes focus to keep themselves that way.
With Kiefer the Phenom, ranking number two on the overall statistics next to behemoth teammate Greg Slaughter in Round 1 with 102 points, 34 rebounds, 22 steals and eight blocks, his dad is hopeful that his son would follow his footsteps and also be named Rookie of the Year.
Finally, if he could give one advice to Ateneo, what would it be?
SUN STAR: Ateneo De Manila University’s blue-chip rookie Kiefer Ravena lived up to his lofty billing as he powered the defending champion a couple of times in the 74th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament. Ravena is the son of volleyball player, Mozzy Ravena, and former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) player, Bong Ravena. Before his dashing performances against archrival De La Salle University and last year’s finalist Far Eastern University, the 17-year-old “Phenom” experienced a scoreless debut in their hard-earned victory against Adamson last July 10. “I didn’t relax after that horrible first game. I took every practice seriously and make sure that I’m very competitive every game because as much as possible, we want to win every game,” he said. And he did make up for his forgettable performance as he posted an average of 16.5 points, four rebounds, five assists and 2.5 steals this week to lead Ateneo’s path to a first round sweep (7-0). With this effort, Ravena earned the ACCEL-3XVI UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week presented by Gatorade. He totaled 18 points, five rebounds, six assists and a steal in a 66-53 victory over University of Santo Tomas last August 4. In Sunday’s rematch of last season’s championship series, Ravena was again at the forefront of Ateneo’s 69-49 win over FEU after finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal. Ateneo finished the first round with an unblemished slate for the third time since the Final Four format was introduced in 1994. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)
Ateneo rookies early contenders for UAAP Season 74 MVP award
Ateneo rookies Greg Slaughter and Kiefer Ravena are the early contenders for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the 74th UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
Slaugher and Ravena, based on the statistics report provided by Imperium Technology/Smart Bro, occupy the top two spots in the race for the coveted individual award at the end of the first round of eliminations.
Imperium Technology/Smart Bro is the official statistician of the UAAP, NCAA and the PBA.
The 6-foot-11 Slaughter, a transferee from the University of Visayas, is on top of the statistical race with 65.1429 statistical points (SPs) with per game averages of 14.6 points (sixth), 8.9 rebounds (third) and 2.1 blocks (third) after the first round.
He is followed by Ravena as the rookie out of the Ateneo High School basketball program collected 62 SPs after accumulating per game averages of 14.6 points (fifth) and 1.7 steals (second) after seven games. Both players led Ateneo’s seven-game sweep of the first round of the eliminations.
Both players led Ateneo’s seven-game sweep of the first round of the eliminations.
The MVP award is given to the player with the most SPs, which is computed based on the overall individual statistics with bonus points being awarded to every winning game.
Rookie Bobby Ray Parks of National University is third in the statistical race with 57.4286 SPs. He leads the league in scoring with an average of 17.1 points a game but he failed to get sufficient bonus points due to the Bulldogs’ 2-5 win-loss record.
University of Santo Tomas’ Jeric Fortuna is fourth (55 SPs) followed by Far Eastern U’s Aldrech Ramos (54.2857 SPs). Adamson’s Alex Nuyles is sixth with 53.8571 SPs.
Last year’s MVP RR Garcia of FEU is tied with Ateneo’s Nico Salva at seventh (51.8571 SPs) followed closely by LA Revilla ofLa Salle (51.7143) and Eric Camson of Adamson (50.1429). - JVP, GMA News
The Ateneo Blue Eagles waylaid the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 64-49, on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s finals in the 74th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Playing in front of a crowd of 16,150, the Eagles showed their poise against a Tamaraws squad that seemed to fall apart after a bad call.
The Blue Eagles where only ahead by nine points, 51-42, with 6:44 left when the Tamaraws were called for consecutive technical fouls — one on guard Terrence Romeo and another on coach Bert Flores.
Both received their technicals for complaining after Romeo, who was chasing Chris Monfort, was accidentally hit by the Ateneo guard on the face. The FEU guard received a double black-eye when he was called for a foul on the play.
As a result, Ateneo was awarded four free throws, making three of them, and retained ball possession. Kirk Long then sank a three-pointer to push the lead to fifteen points.
In the ensuing Ateneo play, FEU’s Rusell Escoto was also called for an unsportsmanlike foul with 6:18 left, giving Greg Slaughter two more free throws, after which the Blue Eagles still retained ball possession. Kirk Long then made a three-pointer to push the lead to 20.
With the win, Ateneo sweeped the first round of the UAAP tournament. The Blue Eagles also swept the first round in 2004 and 2006.
“We’ve been pretty solid defensively and that allowed us to win,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black. “I didn’t expect to win this big, but FEU lost its composure. We’re already separated, but that gave us more separation.”
“It’s good that we’re now at 7-0 because we’re trying to pile up as many wins as we can.”
Defense proved to be the key for the Eagles, who held the Tamaraws to only nine points in the third period.
Rookie sensation Kiefer Ravena again spearheaded Ateneo’s attack with a game-high 19 points while fellow rookie Slaughter finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The Tamaraws absorbed their second straight setback and their win-loss record fell to 4-3.
Reigning most valuable player RR Garcia led FEU with 15 points.
FAR Eastern University would do well to remember the phrase, “keep calm and carry on.”
Last season’s runner-up imploded at the worst possible moment, ringing up two technicals and an unsportsmanlike foul in just two possessions that ultimately handed defending champion Ateneo de Manila University six free throws, two extra possessions and a 20-point lead that it sustained until the buzzer, 69-49 in front of 16,150 people at the Araneta Coliseum in the 74th season of the UAAP last August 7.
Entering the fourth quarter down 47-35, RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo strung together three baskets to bring the Blue Eagles’ lead down to single-digits, 51-42, 6:48 left to play. On the inbounds after a basket by Garcia, last season’s rookie of the year Romeo stuck close to fifth-year point guard Emman Monfort before getting whistled for holding on to the ball carrier’s arm. While trying to pull out of Romeo’s grip, Monfort was caught with his forearm on Romeo’s head, prompting the FEU part of the crowd to seek a foul. Only Romeo was whistled for a personal by officials, though, forcing the former FEU-FERN Baby Tam to walk towards the referee and protest with his finger pointed, earning him a technical foul. FEU’s bench disagreed with the call, enough to earn head coach Bert Flores a technical of his own. That gave Monfort four free throws, which he converted three, restoring the lead to double-digits, 54-42.
On the bonus possession, Nico Salva missed a floater, but the Blue Eagles got the ball back and hit Kirk Long, who nailed an open three. Then, another whistle was blown. This time, it was an unsportsmanlike foul on rookie Russel Escoto for shoving Greg Slaughter out of the post. Slaughter made his free throws, making it 59-42, forcing the Tamaraws to call timeout with 6:18 to play. After the break, Ateneo found Long at the same spot again, with the same result, another triple to open up a 62-42 bulge.
Needing to cut into the lead quickly, the Tamaraws started jacking up triples, heaving four in a span of two minutes, before Kiefer Ravena converted on the and-one putback off another Salva miss, stretching the lead to 65-42 with four minutes left, sealing the game and the first round sweep for the Blue Eagles.
Said Ateneo coach Norman Black after the game, “Defensively…we’re probably in a good position right now. The last couple of games, we haven’t shot the ball very well…but our defense still remains pretty solid, which is probably the reason why we’ve won the last couple of games. As long as we maintain the defense throughout the entire league, we’ll always have a good chance of hopefully in every game.” He also addressed concerns of the squad peaking too early, saying, “That’s always the old argument, you know, are they peaking too soon? We’d rather be in this position we are in right now than any other position.”
Ravena led all scorers with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Slaughter finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Veteran forward Salva and Long combined for 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
After a 15-15 first quarter, FEU jumped right out of the gate in the second to take a 19-15 lead behind Garcia and Aldrech Ramos. The return of Ravena from the bench seemed to galvanize the Blue and White, however, as they embarked on a 10-1 run to retake the advantage, 25-20, with another and-one play by Ravena serving as the capper. Down by two possessions, 30-26, after the break, Garcia teamed up this time with Christian Sentcheu to get FEU to within two, 32-30, before the Blue Eagles countered with a huge 15-5 blast, taking over the third quarter behind the efforts of Slaughter and Salva.
Garcia was the lone Tamaraw in double-digits with 15 points, though he needed 23 shots to get there. Escoto and Romeo added eight each, as poor shooting did FEU in. They were just 1-of-16 from beyond the arc, and 20-of-60 on their two-point shots. Ateneo was also more aggressive, getting 28 trips to the free throw line to just nine for the Tamaraws, their second lowest total in 2011 since earning just seven charities versus the NU Bulldogs.
Ateneo enters the second round with a perfect 7-0 record, a feat it hadn’t achieved in its last three title runs, while FEU fell to 4-3, with Adamson University, at 4-2, a half-game ahead.
IT may have been an ugly game, but a win is a win.
Ateneo de Manila University remains on top of the 74th UAAP season ladder with a perfect 6-0 mark after beating the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers 66-53 last August 4 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Once again, the Blue Eagles could not buy a bucket from downtown, making just 1-of-18 triple attempts, part of a 5-of-35 drought from the perimeter. But luckily for the defending champions, points could still be put on the score board in different ways as they ran the Tigers to the ground. The tactic worked, as the Blue Eagles got 19 fastbreak attempts, which they converted into 26 points, nearly 40 percent of their total output.
“We personally think UST is probably the most physical team in the UAAP so we wanted to be prepared for that,” said Ateneo head coach Norman Black after the game. “I think in the first half we were taken a little bit by surprise by the way we were being defended and we did a very poor job of executing our offense but the thing that helped us in this game is that we got out and run.”
The Blue Eagles actually started out hot, scoring on three of their first four possessions. But, after Emman Monfort was hit with an unsportsmanlike foul for fighting through a Chris Camus screen with his elbow, Ateneo looked discombobulated, and had to settle for a one-point deficit after 10 minutes, 11-10. They shook the feeling off pretty quick, though, jumping out to an 8-0 run at the start of the second, with five markers coming from reserve guard Tonino Gonzaga. A rare lapse in character nearly upended Ateneo 4:21 into the quarter. On the previous UST possession, Jeric Fortuna had nailed a buzzer-beating triple that cut the Ateneo lead to three, 19-16. Nico Salva tried to stretch the lead back to two possessions, but had his shot blocked by UST’s Karim Abdul. Replays clearly showed a goaltend, and the Blue Eagles clearly expected one, as Kirk Long, already past the half-court line, started making his way back up to his team’s hoop. That allowed Jeric Teng to streak down the floor for an open layup, trimming the gap to 19-18 as Black howled in protest at the referees. Ateneo made sure that the lead didn’t swing back to UST, putting together an 18-2 run over the second and third quarters to give them a 37-20 advanage.
From then on, it was just a matter of playing keep-away, something Ateneo has grown accustomed to doing this season. After free throws by last season’s UAAP juniors MVP Kevin Ferrer made it a 10-point game at the 7:10 mark of the fourth quarter, Bacon Austria scored five in a row, followed by a long deuce by Salva to extend the advantage to 56-39, with five minutes left to play. A flurry of jump shots by Jeric Fortuna tried to breathe some hope into the situation, but with the score at 60-49 at the two-minute mark, Kiefer Ravena found Greg Slaughter for an alley-oop dunk that extending the Ateneo streak over UST to 10 straight games dating back to 2007.
Matched up against Kevin Ferrer, Ravena, the UAAP juniors Finals MVP for last season, was able to hold the much taller forward in check, limiting him to just six points, no three-pointers, seven rebounds and two assists. On the other end, he led the Blue Eagles with 18 points, five rebounds, six assists and a steal.
Fourth-year forward Salva nearly attained a double-double, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds, while the duo of Gonzaga and Austria combined for 15 of Ateneo’s 20 bench points.
Fortuna also had 18 points, and tallied six rebounds and three dimes. Teng was held in check for most of the game by Kirk Long and was limited him to just 12 markers.
Interestingly, UST was able to contain Greg Slaughter, sending double-teams his way often to grab a 53-42 rebounding edge. But the Growling Tigers struggled on offense, registering just eight assists to 20 by Ateneo. Both sides also shot horribly, with Ateneo getting the better end of it, finishing at 33.8 percent. UST was just 19 of 64 for a 29.7 percent field goal clip.
UST, which lost its third straight game, will look to claw back to .500 when it faces UP on Sunday, August 7. With the win, Ateneo is just a game away from sweeping the first round, with just FEU standing in its away, on August 7 as well. While a sweep would be nice, according to Black, that’s not the exact goal of the Blue Eagles. Instead, he said, “We have a lot of veterans on our team so it’s easy to sell the idea that we have to try to stay within the top two going into the Final Four so that we can have the twice-to-beat advantage. That’s really the goal right now, rack up as many wins as we can. Make sure we get that advantage going into the playoffs.”