Why Kiefer Ravena deserves the UAAP MVP right now
MANILA, Philippines – Before I get into the scope of this article, let’s get something out of the way right now.
Unlike with the PBA and even the NBA, the media doesn’t get to vote for who wins the UAAP MVP award.
So, how does one win the coveted trophy, then? The league uses a formula to come up with the “statistical points” of each player, with the one compiling the most by season’s end taking home the plum.
The formula takes into accounts a player’s individual statistics, so that includes points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
The formula also includes bonus points, which is determined by the number of wins by the team of the player; as well as penalty points, which are deductions based on technical and unsportsmanlike fouls.
After round one of the UAAP Season 78 senior’s basketball tournament, Ateneo Blue Eagles superstar Kiefer Ravena leads the MVP race with 70.86 SPs. UST’s Kevin Ferrer (68.29) and Ed Daquioag (65) are second and third, respectively, while NU’s Alfred Aroga (61.14) and DLSU’s Jeron Teng (60.14) round up the rest of the top 5.
When I tweeted this news late Wednesday evening, October 8, there were different reactions.
Blue Eagle fans were ecstatic knowing their star could be the first player since Bobby Ray Parks of NU to win consecutive UAAP MVP awards from 2011-2012. Ravena accomplishing the feat would also put him in an exclusive list that includes names like Arwind Santos, Rich Alvarez, Don Allado, Mark Telan, Dennis Espino, Jun Limpot, Jun Reyes, and Allan Caidic.
Here’s a little history lesson: all those guys went on to the PBA, except Parks, who would easily be a top-3 pick, likely first overall, once he declares for the draft.
But there were some unsatisfied reactions to the news as well. “He shoots way too much!” many critics are likely saying. And if they argue that Daquioag and Ferrer are more deserving of the award, that holds merit too, given how dominant the 6-1 UST Growling Tigers have looked thanks to their two stars.
I hate to burst your bubble, guys, but Ravena is the MVP right now.
When determining who’s the MVP of a basketball league, I’ve always relied on asking two questions.
The first: who is the best player? That’s what it should come down to really, right? Right now, if your feet were above the first and you were asked, “who’s the best the UAAP has to offer?” which guy’s name would you mention?
Here’s mine: Kiefer Ravena.
Sure, you can argue that his scoring average is down and his shooting - both from deep and the free throw line - are outrageous, but if you really pay attention to the entirety of a game, what Ravena does goes beyond what the stat sheet shows.
First of all, he’s still second in the league in scoring (18.3) behind Daquioag (19.4), whose 34-point explosion against UE to close the first round helped that scoring average increase. Ravena is also tied with FEU’s Mike Tolomia for assists in the league with 5 a game.
The Blue Eagles’ fifth-year, future PBA star is also averaging 7.1 rebounds a game, which is tied with Teng for 9th overall and just 0.2 below the average of his teammate Ponz Gotladera, who happens to be Ateneo’s starting center.
How about defense? Ravena is second in the league with an average of 1.7 steals a contest. No other player in the UAAP right now is in the top 10 of points, rebounds, assists, and steals besides Kiefer. Oh, and he’s also not in the top 10 for turnovers.
Let’s get back to defense for a second.
You have to be there watching at the arenas to see how much havoc he can create on the floor. Whether it’s by making the life of an opposing ball handler hell during a full court press or by calling out the assignments of his teammates on the weak side of a half-court set while he’s on the strong side, the 21-year-old is a menace on defense. And if you need him to, he will man up, mano-e-mano, the best player on the opposing team.
Now, let’s go to the second category I use to determine who should be MVP.
The name of the award, after all, is most “valuable” player. Who’s more valuable to his team than Ravena?
Let’s do it this way:
Take out one of Ferrer or Daquioag from UST, and you still have the other guy there to keep the team formidable.
Take out one of Tolomia or Mac Belo from FEU, and you still have the other guy there, not to mention RR Pogoy and the rest of those shooters, to make the squad remain a Final Four team.
Take out Teng from La Salle, and you still have Jason Perkins, Prince Rivero, and Rookie of the Year leader Andrei Caracut to hold the reins.
Take out Aroga from NU and, okay, yeah, the Bulldogs would be screwed.
The point is: besides Aroga, no player is more essential to his team than Ravena. Maybe if Bo Perasol gave more minutes to Arvin Tolentino, this would be a different conversation, but that’s an argument for a whole other day.
Jerie Pingoy is coming along as a good creator, while Matt Nieto is showing good signs of being an eventual force in college hoops. But take Ravena out for that lineup and Ateneo’s offense will look as stagnant as one of those statues you’d find in a museum.
Yes, I’m aware the reason why Ateneo’s offense looks immobile at times is because Ravena has a tendency to hold the ball and wind up taking contested jumpers, but that comes with being the main guy of your team. And I can guarantee this: he’s hit more big shots down the stretch than missed them.
Here’s another thing: how many players in the UAAP right now could you say nails jumpers with the degree of difficulty like he can?
The Blue Eagles are 4-3 and the current fourth seed. Their coach is on the hot seat. They have FEU coming up.
However, Ateneo fans should have reason to be optimistic.
This team is far from its peak. Pingoy is continuing to lose weight and get better as each game progresses. Chibueze Ikeh is turning into a very reliable big man in the UAAP, which is worth celebrating considering preseason reports about him centered on: “he can’t even catch the ball.” When was the last time Ateneo had such a big defensive presence like they do with him?
If you wanna argue the Blue Eagles should really be 6-1 right now, be my guest. They are better than what their record shows. Don’t forget: they led UST by 16 in the third quarter, and it took an incredible hot-shooting afternoon from Ferrer to beat them. If not for a Josh Torralba 3-pointer, La Salle would be 3-4 today, with their season hanging in the balance.
Back to the MVP discussion.
Like I said, Ferrer and Daquioag both deserve more than recognition for what they’ve done so far. Heck, if you are a betting person, might be wiser to wage on one of them winning the award seeing as UST’s wins will likely continue to pile up, at least to the point where it’s significantly more than Ateneo’s.
But, remember this:
Who’s the best player in the UAAP today? Ravena.
And he’s certainly also the most valuable. – Rappler.com