By Waylon Galvez
Round One to Kiefer Ravena. But give the win to Paul Lee anytime.
Lee, the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok star guard, nonetheless, was all praises for NLEX’s rookie playmaker Kiefer Ravena after the two staged an epic shootout in their first duel in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Ravena dropped a career-best 31 points, while Lee finished with 21, including 12 in the crucial third quarter when the Hotshots took over en route to a 105-94 win Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ravena was impressive enough that evening. But the thing that struck Lee most was the former Ateneo Blue Eagle’s lack of fear in the big stage.
“Hindi siya natatakot sa moment, yung big moment,” said Lee, whose initial faceoff with Ravena was during his senior year at University of the East when the Red Warriors played the national Youth team, where a 17-year-old Ravena was a member, during an exhibition game in 2010.
“Kapag kailangan na talaga ng big basket (he will score). Saka yung leadership niya andun, kahit na rookie siya. Talagang kitang-kita mo na hinog na talaga yung bata,” added the 28-year-old Lee, now on his fifth year in the PBA.
Lee, the No. 2 pick of Rain or Shine during the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft, likewise sees the similarities of his game with that of Ravena, which his former ROS coach and now NLEX mentor Yeng Guiao pointed out when the franchise picked Ravena second overall in last year’s draft.
The times when the two court-generals went toe-to-toe were highlight film material.
At one point in the second quarter, Ravena – who had four steals – picked the pocket of Lee for a breakaway layup. Lee, on the other hand, pulled up on one of his four three-pointers over the outstretched arm of Ravena in the third period.
Lee commended the efforts of his high-leaping 6-foot-1 counterpart, saying: “Sobrang promising nung bata, yung talent niya andun. Kahit andun na yung depensa namin as a team, naka-31 points pa din siya. Magaling talaga.”
Lee said he is pleased with the win that improved the team’s record to 3-1. For leading Magnolia to victories against NLEX and Kia (124-77), he was named by the PBA Press Corps as Player of the Week as he averaged 17 points.
As for Ravena, he said going up against one of the best playmakers in the league forced him to elevate his game.
“Kapag nakakalaban mo yung mga ganung player, kailangan mo ilabas yung A-game mo kasi respeto yun sa kanya,” said Ravena. “Pag linalabas mo yung best mo sa isang magaling na player, ilalabas niya din yung best niya sayo.”
Ravena took the loss in stride.
“He ended up with the win, but I wanted to see where I can battle against the premier point guards in the league,” added Ravena, whose team dropped their second straight game for a 2-2 card.
It will take some time though before Ravena can have his payback.
Unless the two ballclubs arrange a playoff showdown somewhere down the line this conference, the next time Lee and Ravena will meet is in the Commissioner’s Cup where the rookie said he hopes to get the ‘W’ next time.
“He has won one on me. I hope to see him again,” said Ravena.