Still the 'Phenom': Kiefer Ravena shines in Mobile Legends exhibition game

MANILA, Philippines – Basketball star Kiefer Ravena has showcased his talent not only in the sport, but also in golf and volleyball. Now, he can add esports to that list. 

The "Phenom" led Team Ravena to victory in the 2019 Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) Mobile Legends: Bang Bang exhibition match that featured the 2019 Southeast Asian Games-bound Sibol Philippine team and another basketball guest player, Ryan Araña of NorthPort.

Ravena, who uses the IGN (In Game Name) "Phenom," triumphed over Team Araña, 25-20, on Saturday night, October 26. 

"It was fun. Nakakatuwa (It was cool) to be able to meet the Sibol team who will be competing in the upcoming SEA Games and it’s fun to also stay competitive at a different atmosphere," said Ravena, whose team staged a come-from-behind effort to close out the match. 

Team Ravena for the closeout! They win the first of the best-of-three series, 25-20, over Team Araña. KarlTzy had some stunning highlights for Team Araña early in the game. #ESGS2019 | @beebeego09 — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) October 26, 2019 

According to Sibol Mobile Legends star Karl Gabriel 'KarlTzy' Nepomuceno, who led Team Araña, he was actually shocked that the basketball star had potential in the game.

"Masaya po [na nakalaro ko si Kiefer], tsaka marunong po siya. Hindi ko po ineexpect na marunong po siya. ‘Yung kanina, nakakagulat ‘yung hook niya," said KarlTzy. 

(It was fun playing against Kiefer and he plays well. I didn't expect him to be good, I was shocked with his hook.) 

The NLEX Road Warriors guard started playing Mobile Legends with his PBA teammates as a way to get their minds off basketball, but head coach Yeng Guiao would only allow them to play after practice. 

According to @kieferravena, NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao only allows his players to play Mobile Legends after practice to get their minds off basketball. | @beebeego09 — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) October 26, 2019 

It was the first time Ravena played the 5v5 MOBA game in a competition setting, where he wore earphones to communicate with his teammates and fans can see his gameplay on the big screen, which he said felt quite different to his usual on-court setting. 

"Nakakatuwa na naka-headphones din kami, doon kami nag-uusap unlike basketball where you shout, look at each other’s eyes. Dito, naka-focus ka lang sa screen and trying your best to strategize and counter whatever the opponent is giving you," said Ravena. 

(It was cool that I was wearing headphones and that's where we talked unlike in basketball where you shout, look into each other's eyes. Here, you're focused on the screen and trying your best to strategize and counter whatever the opponent is giving you.) 

"I’ve only seen this online, I’ve only seen this type of setup. I tell you, it’s something I’ve already watched on Youtube. So it’s fun to be in front of that screen and your name, your game, your game play, the fans are watching you. It was really a different experience for me, to be honest." 

A four-time SEA Games basketball gold medalist, Ravena missed his chance for a fifth straight appearance in the regional biennial meet as Gilas head coach Tim Cone opted for a veteran national team pool bannered by Barangay Ginebra players. 

Ravena, though, remains excited to support  all athletes donning the Philippine colors when the country hosts the regional meet starting November 30.

"I’ll be watching as many games, I’ll be supporting as many games as I can," said Ravena, who is particularly interested in watching the DOTA 2 and Mobile Legends tournaments.

"It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to be a spectator fo the 2019 SEA Games which will be held here in our country." – 



Beatrice Go

More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.