MANILA, Philippines – NLEX veteran Larry Fonacier has no problem taking a backseat to rookie guard Kiefer Ravena.
Ravena was the hero of the Road Warriors' victory over the Alaska Aces in Game 1 of their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals series. The rookie assisted on Michael Miranda's go-ahead bucket with 22 seconds left, then sealed the win a lay-up of his own just seconds later.
He finished with 25 points and eight assists in NLEX's 105-99 win, and rightfully earned Player of the Game honors afterward. Ravena played so well in crunch time that he reduced Fonacier's own clutch play into a mere footnote.
After all, it was the veteran who made Ravena's heroics possible, as Fonacier completed a four-point play with 2:40 to play that knotted the count at 96 and shifted momentum back to NLEX.
"The biggest play of the game is Larry's four-point play," NLEX coach Yeng Guiao even said after their win. "That's really the crucial point in the game, where we felt that we could have a chance to win it."
Fonacier, who finished with 18 points in the win, said he was just "very fortunate" to have come up with a big shot.
"Before that, Alaska was making some good plays. For a while, we felt like (the game) was slipping away. But we just kept fighting," he said. "That game was really, really hard."
For Fonacier, it was no surprise to see Ravena finish what he started during the clutch moments.
"We expect that," Fonacier even said of Ravena's crunch time takeover.
"I mean, he's the Phenom," the veteran pointed out. "He really lifted us up, and I think everyone knows that when the game is on the line, we know who to give the ball to."
"We just got to be ready for him to create for us," Fonacier added. "He's a special player, and that's what he does."
Indeed, Ravena has been so good in his rookie year that Fonacier does not see the need to give the young player too much advice. Instead, it is the other way around – the veteran finds himself learning at times from their freshman star.
"I learn from the guy, and I don't really try to mentor him too much," Fonacier explained. "Whatever he needs from me, I'm ready to teach him."
"(But) he's so good, that sometimes, the team really relies on him. So for us, we just let him play and do his thing," he added.
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