Rookie Kiefer Ravena downplayed the ironic significance of hitting his first game-winning shot in the PBA at the expense of former college coach Norman Black that capped off NLEX's thrilling 87-85 victory over Meralco Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Ravena perhaps gave Black a reminder of their UAAP days with Ateneo when he hit a contested jumper with 0.9 seconds left to complete the Road Warriors' comeback from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit while handing the Bolts another blow in their bid to stay in the quarterfinal hunt.
"Nataon lang," Ravena said. "For me, it's just my way of respecting the game, respecting my opponents because you want to give your best every single game. I wanted to help my team win again."
In winning back-to-back games, NLEX climbed to solo fifth in the PBA Philippine Cup with a 5-4 record to enhance its chances of making the quarterfinals.
Ravena helped Black complete a historic five-peat run during his first two UAAP seasons that saw Ateneo beat Far Eastern University in 2011 and University of Santo Tomas in 2012 with a roster powered by current Barangay Ginebra San Miguel center Greg Slaughter and Nico Salva, who also saw action for Meralco.
In fact, Salva had his best game in recent memory for the Bolts with 20 points, but his efforts went in vain when Ravena led the Road Warriors' searing rally from an 82-72 deficit.
Ravena's triple off Salva gave NLEX an 83-82 lead with 44.9 seconds remaining, but nearly became a goat two possessions later when he fouled Chris Newsome for a three-point play that tied things up at 85-all.
He was quick to make amends for that mistake and converted a turnaround shot off Newsome, his Ateneo teammate from 2013 to 2014, for the winning basket.
The heroic performance was a big redemption for Ravena after going 1-of-12 for seven points in NLEX's 81-78 victory over Ginebra Saturday at the same venue.
"Sobrang iba yung feeling, ecstatic. Kasi alam mo yun, ito na yung highest stage eh. And just with the confidence of my coaching staff, my teammates give me, imagine that shooting eight percent previous game but still coach Yeng trusted me with the last shot," Ravena said.
"Yung kumpiyansa na yun, paano ka di magkakaroon ng kumpiyansa diba, kasi ikaw na lang mali dun kung wala pa," added Ravena. (JT)