Kiefer Ravena is coming back to basketball, and Alyssa Valdez couldn't be happier
Santino Honasan on Aug 23, 2019 04:18 PM
“I’m just really happy. Iba si Kiefer Ravena pag may basketball talaga,” - Alyssa Valdez
The Meralco Gym was unusually packed that Monday evening.
Members of the media covering the National Men’s Basketball Team’s practices were a common occurrence, but on that night, there were more than the usual.
Likely, it was because that evening’s Gilas practice marked the return of Kiefer Ravena to National Team training. It was his first time back to practice with the National Team since being suspended by FIBA for testing positive for a banned substance back in 2018.
The suspension, which was 18 months, kept the young Filipino basketball star from participating in basketball activities, whether it be with the National Team or with his mother club team, NLEX in the PBA.
That night, June 24th 2019, Ravena returned to the floor and took another step closer to his eventual, official on-court return.
Apart from the media, among those who were on hand to witness Ravena’s first few hours back in basketball were a few supporters, and someone, who in her own field, was as big a star as Ravena.
Watching from the stands was Philippine volleyball star Alyssa Valdez who, like Ravena, has made a name for herself as one of the country’s best young athletes. Both were products of Ateneo de Manila, both have represented the country in their respective sports, both have made seamless transitions into the professional ranks.
On this night however, Valdez, who is usually the star on her court, was a spectator, watching her boyfriend make his long-awaited return to his court.
“I’m very happy, but I think he’s more than happy na naglalaro na siya, and I think, sabi ko nga kanina, it’s really refreshing to see his presence back in Gilas,” she shared with ABS-CBN Sports. “His presence talaga in the basketball court is really different. Nakaka-miss din talaga na makita siya and mapanood, and to see kung gaano siya kung gaano siya ka-galing mag-basketball.”
Valdez had quietly dipped out of the Meralco Gym before Gilas practice was through and was just waiting outside for Ravena when we asked her for an interview. “Seryoso ba? Akala ko joke lang,” she said with a laugh. It wasn’t reluctance on her part, but more of, she wanted Ravena and Gilas to be the headlines of the stories that would come out of that practice.
It didn’t take long however, for Valdez to show just how happy she was to see Ravena back on the floor and back doing what he does best.
“Life niya, buhay talaga niya yung basketball, so hinding-hindi mawawala sa kanya yung pag-mamahal and pag-respeto talaga sa sport,” she said, beaming with glee.
Apart from Ravena’s own family and friends, Valdez was the one who was there for the whole ride, from the start to the end of the suspension, and she shared that during that time, Ravena’s competitive spirit never wavered, even without his primary outlet.
“Kiefer is very disciplined. He knows his body, he knows his capabilities, he knows when to stop and start doing kung ano yung dapat para mag-improve siya in a certain sport. When he got suspended, he tried to play golf, and nakita naman natin kung gaano siya ka-competitive doon. When he sets his mind to it, he can do it, so I think, knowing na he’s gonna be back, yung mind talaga niya is very focused.”
“Yun talaga yung isa sa mga qualities ni Kiefer na very crucial, yung very disciplined and very focused, and iba yung passion niya and yung love niya for the sport eh, so he would do every thing just to get back,” she continued.
With the suspension came certain ramifications, so to speak. Ravena barred from basketball even before he could finish his rookie season in the PBA, which meant that he was ultimately ineligible to take home any post-season award. Ravena was a front-runner for Rookie of the Year and by all accounts a shoo-in for the All-Rookie Team.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanya kung pwede ba ulit siya magpa-draft?” Valdez quipped. “Kasi hindi naman niya natapos yung [rookie season niya], para back-to-zero ulit.”
Valdez understood that Ravena’s suspension resulted in more than just missing 18-months of basketball.
“Looking back, siguro lahat ng blessings, marami din siyang na-miss, potentially being Rookie of the Year, maganda na yung tinatakbo ng career niya, and it had to stop, so Kiefer was really-it really didn’t show, but he was really devastated deep inside. Sabi nga natin, buhay niya ito.”
Along with the suspension, the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens of the previous season is all in the rear-view now. On August 24th, the suspension will completely be up, and Ravena will be free to return to Gilas as they compete in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China starting on August 31, and he will be free to suit up for NLEX in the 2019 PBA Governor’s Cup later this year.
The long, long wait is finally over, and along with the Kiefer, his family and friends, and his supporters, Valdez is just plain happy to be able to see ‘The Phenom’ back on the floor.
“I’m just really happy. Iba si Kiefer Ravena pag may basketball talaga,” she said, again with a massive smile on her face. “Siguro sa atin, hindi natin naramdaman na ganun siya ka-tagal, pero para kay Kiefer, every single day, it’s really pain in his [heart], so masayang-masaya ako para sa kanya because I think this is what he really wanted, to show what he has in basketball.“
“I’m very happy. If I’m really happy, paano pa siya, diba? Iba talaga yung presence na nadadala niya, iba yung saya na nakukuha niya sa basketball. I’m just really here to support him, and sana marating parin niya yung dreams niya kahit na na-tigil siya for a long time,” she concluded.