MANILA, Philippines – Kiefer Ravena took a slight jab at his critics as he explained his impressive assist numbers after NLEX proved its case as a title contender by dealing TNT its first loss in the PBA Governors' Cup.
Ravena dished out 13 dimes along with 16 points and 4 rebounds as the Road Warriors cruised to a 126-113 win and put a screeching halt to the seven-game winning streak of the KaTropa on Friday, October 25.
With his performance, Ravena upped his average to 9.7 assists per game, the highest in the conference among all locals.
Only Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, who norms 10.0 assists, averages more than Ravena, while the second-best local in the department is NorthPort rookie Robert Bolick, who puts up 6.0 dimes per game.
"Dribble kasi ako nang dribble eh tsaka buwakaw ako eh kaya tumataas 'yung assists ko. Hindi ko alam," a stone-faced Ravena said, drawing laughter from reporters.
(I'm always dribbling and I'm selfish, that's the reason why I have high assist numbers. I don't know.)
The reply was obviously a dig at critics who roasted Ravena for being a ballhog during the FIBA World Cup that saw Gilas Pilipinas wrap up its campaign winless in 5 games.
It was not the same case in his first conference back in the PBA, though, as Ravena utilized his passing savvy to steer the Road Warriors to a 6-1 record, good for the No. 2 spot just behind the 7-1 KaTropa.
Ravena even recorded the most assists in a game this conference with a career-high 17 dimes in a 113-111 come-from-behind overtime win over the Gin Kings in Dubai on October 5.
"I'm trying to dish out more assists. Hopefully, tumaas pa siya nang tumaas para maganda tinatakbo ng team," Ravena said.
(I'm trying to dish out more assists. Hopefully, it gets higher so the team can run even better.)
"[B]ased on statistics, 'yung only talo namin against San Miguel, we only had 21 assists. Every [other] game, lagpas ng 25 assists. Kung titignan mo, proven stat siya na 'pag iniikot namin 'yung bola, mas malaki ang porsiyento naming manalo."
(Based on statistics, we only had 21 assists in our only loss to San Miguel. Every other game, we had at least 25 assists. If you look at it, it's a proven stat that if we move the ball, we have a higher chance of winning.)
NLEX averaged 29.8 assists in all of its 6 victories. Against TNT, it had 30 dimes.
"Pagdating ng latter part, the defense will be tighter and tighter and tighter, mas maraming games na napapanood 'yung mga ibang teams, mas naii-scout ka na, so kailangan mas mapaikot mo pa 'yung bola," Ravena said.
(In the latter part, the defense will be tighter and tighter because other teams have watched more of your games, they've scouted you, so you'd really need to rotate the ball.)
With their teamwork and unselfishness bearing fruit, the Road Warriors are bound to make the playoffs after missing the quarterfinals in the last 4 conferences.
"Medyo matagal-tagal kaming kulelat. Slowly but surely, pieces are falling together, and hopefully, we can peak at the right time. Hopefully, hindi pa ito 'yung peak namin," Ravena said.
(We've been at the bottom of the standings for a while. Slowly but surely, pieces are falling together, and hopefully, we can peak at the right time. Hopefully, this isn't our peak yet.)
NLEX looks to tie TNT at the top when it faces Rain or Shine on Wednesday, October 30, at the Cuneta Astrodome. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.