Kiefer Ravena calls Ateneo’s slow starts a ‘very bad habit’

Naveen Ganglani
Kiefer Ravena calls Ateneo’s slow starts a ‘very bad habit’
Slow starts, like the one that had Ateneo trail 22-4 against NU, have hurt Ateneo's chances in recent games, said Kiefer Ravena
MANILA, Philippines – Following the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ loss to the NU Bulldogs, 76-66, on Sunday, August 24, ADMU Kiefer Ravena expressed his displeasure with the slow starts his squad has come out with over the past few games.

Ravena credited the Bulldogs for putting on an impressive performance – one where they were in control from start to finish – but also mentioned that Ateneo’s slow start in the ball game, in which they trailed 22-4 in the first quarter, played a huge role in the eventual defeat.

“It could have been a different story if we didn’t start out that way,” Ravena explained after the contest, before also mentioning that the chunk of the blame falls on the shoulders of the team’s starting unit.

“Yung blame talaga is with us starters. Imbis na we set the tone positively, naging negative pa. We’re a young team and what the young players see with the starters, syempre yun yung malalabas nila so we take full responsibility for that.”

(The blame is on the starters. Instead of setting a positive tone, it became negative because of our slow start. What the young players see from us is what they will perform, so we take responsibility for that.)

Ravena mentioned that starting the way Ateneo did against National U isn’t advisable, considering how talented of a squad the latter is.

“Can’t start out that way against a team like NU,” mentioned Ravena, whose Blue Eagles have lost four straight games to Head Coach Eric Altamirano’s troops dating back to 2013.

“I’ve been under Coach Eric before,” added Ravena, who was monitored by the NU coach in the SBC Youth Program while he was a high school athlete. “I know how he wants his team to be really composed. So having a start like that and giving NU confidence, mahirap talaga kalabanin yun.” (It’s hard to go up against that.)

Ateneo fell behind by double digits in the first half for the third time in their last four games. And though some of Ravena’s previous endgame heroics managed to get his team by their prior adversaries, he couldn’t do it on Sunday against NU’s hard-nosed defense.

After entering their game against the Bulldogs atop the league standings of the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament, the Blue Eagles fell to 7-3 with the loss, putting them at fourth place.

“We had a very tough three-game stretch with La Salle, UE, and NU,” Ravena said about his squad’s start to the second round. “We lost two. Now we can’t lose any games anymore, given the standings. So we have to take it a game at a time.”

“Every game is a must-win for us.”

Ravena and company will look to get back on the winning track on Saturday, August 30, when they take on the hobbled UST Growling Tigers, who just got Karim Abdul back from a viral infection and lost Kevin Ferrer indefinitely after he fractured his non-shooting hand during practice.

The last time the Season 75 finalists went head to head, Ravena drained a mid-range floater that served as the game-winner. 

“We can’t have that mindset na always catching up in the end. It’s a very, very, very, very bad habit. So we have to focus on how to start out strong against UST,” Ravena indicated.

“You never know if Kevin will play or what. Kailangan talaga namin manalo,” he added. (We really need to win.)

After taking on the Growling Tigers, the Blue Eagles will have a soft schedule with the Adamson Soaring Falcons and UP Fighting Maroons – a combined 1-18 thus far in the UAAP season – as two of their three remaining opponents.

Though most signs point to Ateneo easily winning their games against Adamson and UP, Ravena is cautious to not overestimate the opposition.

Walang ganun. Actually, walang ganun,” (nothing like that) the fourth-year veteran responded when asked about his club taking the two cellar-dwellers for granted. “We can’t have that mindset,” he would later add, while also mentioning that “we have to focus.” –

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