KUALA LUMPUR – For Kiefer Ravena, his latest gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games is definitely the sweetest.
Ravena formally clinched his fourth gold medal when Gilas Pilipinas zapped Indonesia, 94-55, in the finals of the 29th SEA Games men’s basketball competition late Saturday at the MABA gym here.
Arguably the best player in the amateur ranks today, Ravena became the winningest cager in the regional stage to surpass Rommel Adducul, who campaigned in the 1997 Jakarta, 1999 Brunei and 2001 Kuala Lumpur editions of the biennial meet.
“Fourth SEA Games, fourth gold medal… Wow!” said Ravena, who also served as the cornerstone of the country’s campaign in the 2011 Palembang, 2013 Myanmar and 2015 Singapore SEA Games.
“Every time I play in the SEA Games, it gets better and better. So I think this is the most special one for me.”
True enough, Ravena’s road to his fourth mint was never easy.
Gilas Pilipinas flirted with disaster before running away with an 81-74 victory over Thailand in the group stage.
Then, in a furious match against the host country, the Filipinos had to survive the ejection of Carl Bryan Cruz and Baser Amer before tallying a 98-66 victory followed by another narrow win over Singapore, 68-60, to punch a ticket to the finals.
But what made this edition very memorable for Ravena was his clutch step-back jumper against the Singaporeans that lifted the Filipinos out of harm’s way.
“We worked hard for ever single victory,” said Ravena, whose dad, Bong, was part of the fabled squad that regained the SEA Games gold medal in 1991 in Manila.
“But of course, there should always be something that is truly special – and I think this is it.”
This, after all, is his ‘fantastic fourth.”