MANILA—Thanks to his consistently solid performances in the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball tournament, Ateneo forward Thirdy Ravena has made a name for himself, effectively shedding the tag of being "Kiefer's younger brother."
Now, Thirdy has a chance to do something that even Kiefer could not do during his own stellar career with the Blue Eagles – to sweep the elimination round of the men's basketball tournament.
Oh, Kiefer came close. In his second season with Ateneo, the Blue Eagles won their first 13 games before being routed by the Adamson Soaring Falcons in their final game of the elimination round. They still went on to win the title in Season 74.
Thirdy is now in the same boat. The Blue Eagles have won their first 13 games of Season 80, with the younger Ravena averaging a stout 14.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game for the best team in the league.
With a chance to do something unprecedented in the Ravena family, Kiefer is exhorting his younger brother to give his all.
"I never swept the season," Kiefer said Thursday, after playing in his first tune-up game for the NLEX Road Warriors. "(That's) something you can achieve that I never achieved."
"You're closer to your goal of winning a championship," he added. "That's the most important thing."
This, essentially, is his message to Thirdy heading into Sunday's highly anticipated game between Ateneo and defending champion De La Salle University. A victory will mean a 14-0 record for the Blue Eagles, and give them a ticket to the Finals outright.
Kiefer warns that Sunday's game will be "a brawl, literally and figuratively."
"It's going to be a dogfight," he predicted.
"They're one win away from the Finals, and it's reachable," he added. "It's not impossible to happen. I guess, Ateneo's mindset is, 'We're already halfway in, let's get that other leg in, close the door, rest, recover from the whole season, and then focus on whoever we're going to play in the Finals'."
No matter the result of Sunday's game, however, Ateneo has already put together an impressive elimination round campaign. While the Blue Eagles were considered contenders heading into Season 80, virtually nobody expected that they would be on the brink of a sweep at this point in the tournament.
Nobody, that is, except Kiefer himself.
"I remember during the Jones Cup, SEA Games type of months," said Kiefer, referring to a stretch of time between July and August wherein he suited up for the national team along with several former UAAP stars.
"There were a lot of UAAP guys in that team – Mac Belo from FEU, Kevin (Ferrer) from UST. Troy (Rosario) was there from NU," he added. "I was telling them, (Ateneo is) going to surprise a lot of teams."
"I know that Ateneo will be ready, guns firing, when it comes to the UAAP," he predicted then.
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