Kiefer Ravena

Ateneo – NU: Contrapelo?

Someone pointed out to me that Ateneo has lost to National University the last three times they met. Is that right? My old memory of NU is that they were the whipping boys of the UAAP. When any UAAP team played NU, it was almost a sure thing the team would end up with the win.  

Then in 2008 the Sy family bought NU. Everyone knew that, with their deep pockets, the Sy family will definitely use basketball and sports to promote the school and raise enrollment numbers. Eric Altamirano was hired as Coach and Bobby Ray Parks became the Poster Boy of the team. NU’s fortunes changed favorably, albeit slowly. NU started to win games but unfortunately they would also lose games. Sometimes they would lose games with them comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter. Parks went on to grab two MVP honors but despite that and stellar import Emmanuel Mbe who would average 11 rebounds a game, NU would not reach the Finals. So close, yet so far!

This season, with the departure of Bobby Ray Parks, not much was expected of NU except probably to make the Final Four. This is the time for the other recruits of NU to excel, and surprisingly they are doing well! They are tall and athletic and can shoot from the outside. Alfred Aroga is a monster inside the paint and can dominate the big men of the other teams. He is averaging more than 9 rebounds a game and is the leader in blocks. If NU had Aroga last season, they would have made the Finals and maybe would have won it all. Kudos to Coach Eric Altamirano and the coaching staff for making the team competitive and cohesive from the get-go. Come to think of it, the coaches of both NU and Ateneo  are UP alumni. 

For Ateneo to win, everyone including Kiefer must step up. The Phenom had a dismal showing in the last Ateneo-NU game with “just” 13 points. Kiefer has vowed to step up and I’m sure he will find a way to redeem himself. In Kiefer We Trust! When Ateneo played UE, they doubled- and triple-teamed Charles Mammie, shutting him down in the second half. Ateneo must do the same and always put a body or two on Aroga. Will Coach Bo play that card?

Chris Newsome and Von Pessumal, do your stuff! Arvin Tolentino, we need you now, more than ever! From the NU side, I hope Troy Rosario doesn’t play well because he can really light it up from the outside. Neypes, please keep it clean! Your new hippie look just masks your brusqueness. 🙂 

I expect the game to be a grind it out affair. Both teams will be battle-tested. This game will be like a chess game wherein coaches will try to exploit the weaknesses of the opposing team. As usual, whoever has the poise in the endgame will win. I hope it’s us. It’s Payback time! OBF!

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Is Kiefer A Flop(per)?

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To the Ateneo faithful, Kiefer is no flopper.

But recent press releases have now resurfaced, and the UAAP community – especially our opponents – are accusing Kiefer Ravena of taking dives. Kiefer had been called out in the past for his “flopping,” and even Ato Badolato commented that he is a “good actor.”  Kiefer often gets the ball every time the ball is brought down. King Eagle as he is, he can score from the outside as well as drive for the basket. He is naturally the marked man, and thus the focus of the opponent’s defense is to stop him. Unfortunately for the defense, Kiefer is shifty. Have you ever tried to catch a chicken ala Sylvester Stallone in one of those “Rocky” movies? Have you ever tried slapping that flying cockroach in your room?  It is almost impossible to stay in front of him so often he gets fouled on their way to the basket – hence, foul in the act of shooting. He has to sell the foul. That’s the strategy. Kiefer has to make sure that ref sees it. In most of the alleged “flops,” I’d say there had been actual contact. To me, that isn’t flopping. Flopping is claiming there was a foul when there was actually none. Just like the movies when the bad guy swings at the star and the star flies backwards toward the wall. May sound effects pa! 🙂

I heard that the NBA is now cracking down on flops. There’s this video in Youtube that gives examples of flops. In fact, Kiefer had been compared to Lebron in terms of flopping. Really? I’ve seen videos of Lebron flop and Kiefer doesn’t even come close to his play-acting! Oh well, at least Kiefer promised to lessen his “foul-selling” antics.

Let’s not even touch on the topic of fouls that aren’t called! When Ateneo inbounds the ball, don’t the opponents hold our players resulting in a steal and easy 2 points for them? Or when we are being played too tight and when we try to get away, isn’t our second motion what the referee sees? Let’s not even bring up the fouls that could have been called in the 3-point line when we played DLSU! Sheesh, we also foul a lot and we also get slapped with questionable calls so what is their problem? Do we air our complaints to the media? Do we try to condition the minds of the UAAP Commish, refs and our future opponents of fouls committed against us but never called? That’s where breaks of the game comes in. Now if there is a hidden agenda above all this, that is beyond me.

Why are the losing teams picking on Ateneo and Ravena? I think it’s because they are surprised that Ateneo topped the UAAP first round playing small ball! Basketball is supposed to be a “Big Man’s Game” that’s why teams try to get two tall athletic imports and as many Fil-fors that they can. At the beginning of the season, Coach Bo didn’t make any predictions except his hope that Ateneo will pull off a few surprises. If we can win playing small ball, are they alluding that we are cheating? That we get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to iffy calls? I sure hope not because that would be pretty low of them. All these remarks are coming from frustration and should be left unsaid next time. When we lost to NU and DLSU did we complain? We just accept the losses and just move on. That’s maturity. You either realize that your team made some mistakes (and then work on correcting those mistakes) or you give credit to the other team. When we lost to DLSU, Bo didn’t complain about the referees. Instead he lamented on Ateneo’s slow start. And what did we do in the next game? We didn’t allow UE to post a huge lead. Not like Derrick Pumaren. What lesson is he teaching the players? That it’s always someone else’s fault?

There will always be complaints about officiating from both sides. All calls eventually average out in the end. So long as there are no blatantly wrong calls, we will accept the outcome. Looking forward to Payback vs NU this Sunday. OBF!

Thank God For Kiefer

First of all, thank you Chris Newsome for keeping us in the game. Kiefer was trying to involve his teammates early on but sometime in the second quarter he got his third foul and had to sit til halftime. Ateneo this time didn’t have a lethargic start and in fact led during the first half. There were instances of mental lapses from the team resulting in easy two points for UE.

Charles Mammie had his usual power game. Lucky for us, Roi Sumang wasn’t playing that well or shall I say, didn’t have his usual game. Is Roi still injured? He however scored 5 quick points to bring down our lead to a measly 1 point in the fourth quarter with less than 3 minutes to go.  With Mammie getting the rebounds and Roi being more assertive, I felt we were very vulnerable.

Then just like in the NBA, the star player gets the ball and does what he does best with 8 seconds to go in the shot clock. With a one point lead, one would think that Kiefer would drive in or pull up for a shot or pass the ball at the last instance to an open teammate. Noooo….he takes a higher risk, high arching 3-pointer which hit nothing but net! The Kiefer legend continues! The 4 point lead was too much for UE to overcome. Thank you Kiefer! Mabuhay ka!

So we are now 1-1 in this 4-game schedule of death prepared by the UAAP. Though ADMU has the better win-loss record vis-a-vis NU, ADMU is considered the underdog, again due to the African imports of NU. NU is a tall athletic team but beatable. Kiefer will be inspired to play better this time and ADMU may just have it’s revenge. It’s Payback time! One Big Fight!

Ateneo- UE: We Need To Win This Game

Didn’t we just play UE’s less than two weeks ago? Them again? We all know UE is out for some payback. Expect Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie to lead their charge again. 

For Ateneo, it’s still the Kiefer Ravena show. I don’t believe UE has a player to stop Kiefer so Kiefer will have his numbers, but I don’t expect 38 points because he has to involve his teammates. Arvin Tolentino has to make his 3 point shots. This will force the African imports to play him outside and maybe open up the lanes for Kiefer and Chris Newsome.  Two questions in my mind. Will Kiefer tire? Will Coach Bo control his minutes? 

Ateneo needs this win but UE needs this win more so expect UE to go all out from the get-go. Ateneo can’t afford another slow start and everyone in the team knows it. Ateneo must match the energy of UE. I’m sure the coaching staff has devised ways to counter Mammie and turn him into Pansit (corny ba?) 🙂   Expect another close game and like any Final Four atmosphere game, whichever team that makes it’s shots and keeps its composure will win the game. Breaks of the game is a given – officiating included. 

I know the UAAP is following a template depending on the standings of the first round which incidentally can be amended upon the whim of the UAAP Board. I just wanted to point out that ADMU will be undergoing a tough first four games in the second round. If FIBA had a Group of Death, ADMU has a Schedule of Death with DLSU, UE, NU and UST in that order. I would be content if ADMU gets a 2-2 record after these four games.  How I wish we play UP or Adamson during this stretch. Well, I guess this is the price to pay for winning the first round. The bullseye is at our backs and we have to prove our worth. 

Maybe The Best Ateneo Come-From-Behind Victory Ever

Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo De Manila University dribbles between the legs of Renz Palma of University of the East. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

Ok so it’s the first round of the UAAP and Ateneo may have come from even bigger margins before, but for its game against University of the East, Ateneo was playing with a smaller lineup against a team team that had two athletic African imports and an inspired All-Star guard. After the first quarter, I’m sure it seemed to many that Ateneo was going to get steamrolled this game. Everything went UE’s way. Charles Mammie was lording it over everybody. The UE press disrupted the Ateneo offense which led to many turnovers and easy baskets. Roi Sumang was playing well while Kiefer Ravena was 2/9 with 12 points.

Luckily basketball is a tale of two halves. In sports, it’s not how you start but how you finish that counts. An Ateneo recruiter friend mentioned that at the start of the second half, Kiefer had his “Kobe-look” and that would mean problems for UE.

Whatever the Ateneo coaching staff told its players during the break worked big-time. Somehow UE couldn’t get the ball to Mammie down low. The UE press slowed down the Ateneo offense but didn’t result in turnovers anymore. The Ateneo offense started to click under the leadership of Kiefer. The second half became the Ravena-Sumang show leaving the whole arena in awe. With five minutes to go, Ateneo was behind by 12 and down by 6 with 2 minutes to go.  Then Ateneo made it’s run and tied the score at 80-all resulting in the first overtime game this UAAP season. In the extra period it was still the Ravena-Sumang show. Ateneo controlled most of the overtime period and won 93-91.  Ravena had a career high 38 points while Sumang had 30.

UE should be actually performing better than its 2-4 current standing. It’s just that they start strong but somehow in the second half they collapse. This happened to them in their tiff against La Salle. I regard them as a “hard-luck” team because they seem to lose when they should be winning! Somehow their opponents just end the game stronger than them.

At the start of the season, I projected UE to be a Top 3 team behind DLSU and NU with Ateneo, FEU and UST fighting for the last Final Four spot. UE can still make the Final Four but they have to start winning fast! Assuming it takes 8 wins to make it there, they have to win 6 out of their last 8 games.

Ateneo on the other hand is at an enviable 6-1 standing. Their only loss was to a tall and athletic NU team which defended Kiefer well the entire game. I have said before: wherever Kiefer goes, Ateneo will go. The Blue Eagles live and die with the Phenom. For two straight games now he played hero to win close games. Can he do it again in the second round? I hope so with the help of his supporting cast.

Ateneo vs UE: Too close to call

Kiefer Ravena and Roi Sumang from UAAP season 76. Photo by Rappler/Mark Marcaida

Ateneo is at 5-1 while UE is at 2-3. So the result of this game should be a no-brainer right? Wrong! Ateneo has been playing relatively well and has found ways to win versus tough opponents. UE, I believe has been playing below par because their PG Roi Sumang hasn’t produced (he is averaging “just” 15 ppg but has turned over the ball at an average of 3.8 per game) and somehow Coach Derek Pumaren hasn’t been able to get the most out of his two athletic African imports.

This is going to be another game that is too close to call. Definitely whoever has the player advantage will emerge victorious. While Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena is having a monstrous season with 20.8 ppg, this could be the game where Sumang explodes. For Ateneo, it will be up to the other players – particularly the high-flying Newsome, the rookie Tolentino, and sweet-shooting Pessumal – to provide the outside sniping. Their big men will have to find a way to contain the UE African imports namely, Arafat and Mammie. Ateneo is a relatively small team and they have difficulty against teams with two athletic imports.  It will be interesting to see how Ateneo will handle the UE press. For UE, the imports will have to bully their way inside the paint and  their role players need to make their outside shots.

I admit my heart bleeds blue so I would still tag Ateneo for the win, though probably by a bucket. But if UE plays well and dominates the inside, oh well…heaven forbid!

Ateneo – UST: Was That A Game Or What?!

Yahoo PH Sports – Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo celebrates after scoring the game-winning basket against UST. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

My slightly delayed PAL flight made me miss the first three quarters. As soon as I got on my car, my driver told me that Ateneo was playing and the game was very tight. 15 lead changes. Luckily my home is just 5 minutes away from Silay airport so I caught the last 8 minutes.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that the UST X-Factor is Aljon Mariano. He scored a total of 17 points in the game, including a number of crucial baskets that enabled UST to regain the lead. Good thing he fouled out! Had he been playing in the last 48 seconds, the outcome could have been different. Remember he killed us in the Finals a few years back. Abdul, who later aired his frustration and admitted that his team “lacked focus,” got his usual numbers and had a good game.

This game was too close to call with so many deadlocks and lead changes. Too bad one team had to lose. Kiefer may not have been playing that well but what happens in the end game is what counts. I thought that last play was for Newsome to create since he was holding the ball. I didn’t see Kiefer pop out to get the ball with 8 seconds left. That 15-foot looper over Abdul made the difference.

So I’m grinning from ear-to-ear and I can’t wait to watch the replay on Balls TV. The replay may end late and I have an early start tomorrow but heck, we won and it will be all so worth it. Great game! Everyone was entertained. If you want to relive the game, you can watch the highlights reel here. Heck, why not watch the whole game instead?! Can’t wait for the rematch next round!

But before that, UE naman!