MANILA, Philippines – Count naturalized Filipino big man Andray Blatche among those who are impressed with how Kiefer Ravena has been playing in his very first season as a professional player.
Blatche watched last Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum as Ravena guided the NLEX Road Warriors to a 96-89 triumph over the Alaska Aces. The second overall pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft had 12 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds in the win, earning Player of the Week honors after his performance.
"It's good to watch Calvin (Abueva), Asi (Taulava), and Kiefer," Blatche said during the game, referring to his other Gilas Pilipinas teammates who played on Sunday.
Of the young Ravena, Blatche said: "Definitely, Kiefer is going to be something special. I like watching Kiefer play a lot."
Blatche knows first-hand how Ravena can impact a game: they were part of the Gilas Pilipinas roster that competed in the first qualifying window for the FIBA World Cup late last year, and they are likely to find themselves teaming up again later this month for the second window.
Ravena has been stellar in his first nine games for NLEX, averaging over 16 points and six assists per game for the Road Warriors.
"Alam mo si Dray, parang Pinoy na din kasi talaga 'yung ugali niya," said the NLEX rookie. "Talagang pag nakikita niya kaming maglaro, nae-enjoy niya."
Ravena noted that Blatche was also very interested in watching Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, and Troy Rosario – just a few of his other Gilas teammates – play. This, according to Ravena, was a testament to the bond they formed in the national team.
"It's the moments that we spend together in the national team… it's really treasured, no? So nage-enjoy ka when you see other people from that group succeed and play," he explained.
"We're the same with Dray – every now and then, we check on his games sa China, on how he's doing, just to see kung ano 'yung nangyayari sa career niya," Ravena added.
The former Ateneo de Manila University standout is looking forward to teaming up with Blatche again when they play against Australia on the road and Japan at home later this month.
"I'm very thankful for Dray for his service here for the Gilas team and you know, we're looking forward for the second window (of the FIBA qualifiers)," said Ravena.