PBA: NLEX to fill hole left by Ravena through collective effort

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2021 05:42 PM

Veteran JR Quinahan had a team-high 18 points for NLEX against Alaska. PBA Media Bureau.
Veteran JR Quinahan had a team-high 18 points for NLEX against Alaska. PBA Media Bureau.

NLEX's first game without Kiefer Ravena in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup went as well as they could have hoped.

The Road Warriors got a balanced scoring effort, with four players reaching double-figures, and they overhauled a 10-point deficit to take down the Alaska Aces, 84-74. Kevin Alas (17 points), JR Quinahan (18) and Jericho Cruz (15) performed as expected, but NLEX also got a 15-point performance from Kenneth Ighalo in the victory.

For coach Yeng Guiao, this is exactly how they will fill the hole left by Ravena, who is currently in Japan where he will take care of his documents for his B.League team, the Shiga Lakestars.

"Ang mentality namin is we cannot step into the shoes of Kiefer if we're just looking for one or two guys to step into those shoes," said Guiao, who has previously compared losing Ravena to losing a right arm.

"We have to do it by committee," the coach stressed. "And true enough, dito sa game na 'to, si Ken Ighalo nag-step up. Jericho is also a big factor stepping into those shoes of Kiefer."

"So we'd like to be able to distribute that responsibility to the rest of the team, hindi lang sa isa o dalawang tao."

Losing Ravena for any stretch of time is a blow to NLEX. Before he left, Ravena was the Road Warriors' chief playmaker with averages of 15.8 points, 6.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game. 

Alas, who sparked NLEX's comeback against Alaska, said that Ravena made life easier for the rest of the Road Warriors.

"It is tougher right now without Kiefer," said Alas.

But Alas, NLEX's team captain, is proud of how they have responded to Ravena's absence. In particular, he hailed their reserves who seized the opportunity and came up with big games.

Ighalo received the bulk of the praise, but Alas noted that Philip Paniamogan also had his moments, as well as rookie Calvin Oftana. 

Guiao believes that other players such as Don Trollano and Tony Semerad will also get their time to shine.

"'Yun ang sinasabi ni Coach Yeng, collective effort 'yung dapat mag-step up, hindi isang tao lang. Not me, not Jericho. Dapat talaga ano 'yan eh, collective effort eh," said Alas. "Of course, ang ganda ng game plan namin. 'Yun na nga, nabigyan ng chance 'yung mga di nakakalaro nung previous games."

Guiao said the Road Warriors will continue to have this kind of mentality, especially as they expect to be without Ravena for the rest of the elimination round. The coach has previously acknowledged that the only way Ravena can still play for NLEX this conference is if they make a deep playoff run.

"Nasabi ko na rin 'to, losing Kiefer is like losing your right hand," said Guiao. "But we have no choice eh but to grow another hand or look for a prosthetic. Hangga't maaari gagawan mo ng remedyo yung pagkawala ni Kiefer."

"We have no choice but just to work harder, play smarter, make the best use of our opportunities that are given to us," he added.

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