Freeman Cebu Sports

Kiefer on winning and getting better

BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro - The Freeman

I now have an idea why Kiefer Ravena is called “The Phenom.” And it’s not because he’s a talented basketball player. It’s because of the winning mindset that he sets for himself with the goal of always being in a position to become better. This was my major take-away from Ravena’s guesting in the maiden episode of the webcast “BIDA BEST LIVE” that streams over the Facebook Page BEST Center Sports Inc.

“Winning is a habit, whether you want to win in a basketball game, whether you want to win in life. It’s something that you really have to be used to doing,” Ravena shared as we interviewed him along with Gilas Pilpinas Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach and BEST Center senior clinician Julie Amos. It’s hard not to admire how Ravena has grown through the years ever since he signed up for his first basketball clinic with the BEST Center when he was only four years old. Since the minimum age for the clinic was five, Ravena needed an exemption from the policy, something he got due to his basketball skills, maturity and natural talent. We are talking about someone who at three years old was already drawing up plays on a coaching board for his father Bong, an active PBA player at that time. Ravena recalls how discipline was a big aspect of his growing up, picking this up from simple things such as being on time (or else one couldn’t play in the scrimmages), dropping everything and yelling “defense” upon hearing Coach Julie’s long whistle, and not wearing slippers or sleeveless shirts when on a basketball trip. For someone called a phenom, one would be surely surprised to find out that Ravena took up Levels 1 and 2 of the BEST Center clinic more than once. He remembers how his parents said that he had to master the basics or fundamentals of the game, the main ingredients of the start-up levels of the clinic, something that others feel isn’t important. Some insist on moving up through the levels every year, even if they need work on the basics. Kiefer repeated Levels 1 and 2. Yes, REPEATED! This is something that separates the good ones from the great ones.

When he started playing in the SBP Passerelle tournament at eight years old, he gave his best every time he was on the court even if it meant just being the one in charge to double team the player with the ball on the other team. He also used the playing time as a motivation to get better as he didn’t want to be playing for the minimum number of minutes assured of all SBP players (one quarter was eight minutes long). From being a bench warmer, he grew to become a key player at every stage of his career. He also cited how he appreciated how many other players were better than him, even mentioning the names of Joemari Jagupit & Francois Bryan Negapatan of USC South, two players who he faced at the national finals of the SBP Passerelle Tournament. By the time he was a freshman at Ateneo de Manila University high school, he was accelerated directly to the Juniors team that played in UAAP, bypassing two years of Passerelle eligibility. It was a big leap similar to when the four-year old who was allowed to bypass the five years old policy as a minimum when he started enrolling in the BEST Center’s summer clinics.

He also revealed how losing games is part of getting better, citing how he has been part of losing teams many times in the past and even today. “It’s part of growing. It’s part of getting better. Those losses will eventually build up and make us better players, better people. That’s the one of the beauties of sports; it’s one of the aspects in life that allows us to bounce back right away.”

“If you always put yourself in a position to win, that’s a winning habit. Put yourself in a position to succeed. It will make life easier,” Kiefer adds. I’m amazed that by coming in supposedly “under age” and raw, he broke barriers and succeeded in doing things only a few have achieved. And it all started when at four years old, he literally placed himself in such a position to be a winner. “If you carry yourself with a winning habit on and off the court, it’s actually better than winning (games) itself. You get to earn a lot of people’s respect. They look up to you and with that, a lot of responsibility comes with it,” Ravena shared. This took a different meaning when he carried the colors of the country when he was thirteen years old at the Easter Classic tournament in Las Vegas, at five editions of the Southeast Asian Games (all gold medals) and at the FIBA World Cup. His mindset and advice for others in this pandemic? “Have no excuses for yourself. If you want to be better and improve, you can’t find an excuse. Be better today from what you were yesterday. There’s no reason for you not to work out, not to be better. There are always a lot of things to improve on, whether in life or in basketball.”

He capped the talk by saying that there are no secrets to developing this winning mindset, citing the importance of the values of attitude, sacrifice, dedication and effort. He said that if one can control these four, chances are high that he or she will succeed. Amen!

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