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The Electric and the Efficient

Monday, 13 June 2011 30 Comments

(Note: This piece was actually written after the first playing date of the Filoil tournament several weeks ago. But given the win of the Ateneo Blue Eagles over San Beda again in the finals (with Kiefer and Greg starring for Ateneo again), I thought it would be a nice reprint. This was originally posted on Bleachers’ Brew.)

Sandy Arespacochaga leaned against the wall with his head bowed while one of his team’s prized recruits fielded questions from the media. When asked the obviously rhetorical question, “Magaling talaga si Kiefer, ano?” the usually animated assistant coach simply nodded in silent agreement. He then flashed a knowing smile that captured what everyone else at the San Juan Arena was buzzing about long after the conclusion of the game.

The rook just put the rave in Ravena.

Kiefer came off the bench midway through the first quarter to palpable anticipation. He didn’t disappoint. From the moment his first fadeaway baseline jumper swished cleanly through the net a few plays in, The Kief Show was on. He would only miss three shots all game long while making eleven on a mix of hanging jumpers and electric drives. He made several passes that exhibited an incredible court sense for a neophyte. And in the critical final minutes of the fourth quarter, he had hands big enough to both carry the team to victory and have the crowd eat out of them at the same time.

The San Beda Red Lions assigned different defenders to shadow The Phenom. But the peskiness of Melo Lim, aggressiveness of Anthony Semerad and intimidation of Rome de la Rosa could only do so much to stem the tide. Whether matched up against stronger, taller or faster defenders, Kiefer remained unfazed. The doubters called out that he wouldn’t be able to elevate his game from the Juniors division to the Seniors. He would be a lost boy among men, they said with conviction. Norman Black is more than willing to refute this. “(Kiefer) plays beyond his years,” the coach reasoned and at least for one game, Ravena proved it. He may have been a young lad competing against grownups, but on this day, he was The Man.

Towering alongside the 5’11” Ravena and his scintillating performance was 7’0” center Greg Slaughter, whose equally outstanding debut should not be lost in the hoopla over the rookie guard. With skills chiseled by experience in both domestic and international tourneys, Greg played Tim Duncan to Kiefer’s Kobe Bryant by displaying a fundamentally efficient game. He actually top scored for the Blue Eagles with a quiet 26 and did it with an equally varied – albeit less flashy – blend of moves when compared to Kiefer. Jump hooks, short stabs, free throws and an unexpectedly nimble dribble-drive were his chosen arsenal, all the while challenged by San Beda’s imposing front line. Just like Kiefer, Slaughter entered the game with the weight of crushing expectations on his out-of-reach shoulders. Just like Kiefer, he, too, didn’t disappoint.

It’s quite fitting, therefore, that these two players teamed up for a backbreaking alley-oop in the game’s final minute, a play that marked what could be a significant basketball moment. It ignited the only “One Big Fight!” chant of the afternoon from the Ateneo faithful, which was without its Blue Babble Battalion cheer squad. It relegated the Ateneo bench to gushing fan boys, a couple of whom would otherwise have been on the court if not for Kiefer and Greg. It shifted the balance of power from the team’s veterans to a bunch of newcomers, possibly for years to come. And it served as an urgent notice to the college basketball world: even after three straight UAAP championships, winning hasn’t grown old at all for the Blue Eagles.

In fact, winning has just gotten a whole lot younger.

For more about the Ateneo Blue Eagles and San Beda Red Lions, secure a copy of Rebound Magazine, out in stores sometime in July!

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Mike is the editor-in-chief of Rebound magazine. For the past two years, he has been working together with the Rebound team to produce what he hopes is a high quality college basketball magazine. His vision for Rebound is to make it as much a part of college hoops tradition as cheer squads and rabid fans.


  • red rampant says:

    We now have a new dynamic duo in the collegiate ranks. Just imagine how many victories the two will have. Then imagine the two playing in the international scene. keifer should have suited up for the Gilas during its stint in the PBA.

  • Why is Norman Black? says:

    Definitely these two will enter the mythical 5 at their respective positions. But because their stats are shared, I don’t know if one of them can become MVP.

    But nevertheless, it’s the crown that counts.

  • Black Mamba says:

    Just hope they do not rape each others GF just like what Buenafe did to dela Cruz’ GF. Tsk tsk.

  • Outback Outlaw says:

    Anything less than a championship for the Ateneo Blue Eagles will be an epic failure. If that ever happens, count me in as one of many who will voice out “some” opinions.

    • Escudo says:

      @Outback O,

      I agree it would seem like an epic failure unless I guess injuries happen (God forbid. And out of curiosity, can you already outline what those scenarios/opinions will be? So we can understand what you saw prior. I just find it interesting.

  • What Everybody Said says:

    I just wonder how far would have kiefer’s talent go if he played in the US. Well, congratulations to Philippine basketball! I hope this is the start for the country.

    • 4peat says:

      if Kiefer grow 2-3 inches more, woooooowwww! ibang usapan na yan, this kid is exceptional :)head and shoulder above all his rookie batchmates including ray parks,Yes Ray Parks! :)

      top 3 rookie this year

      Tallo* (kung makakalaro)

      • What Everybody Said says:

        I agree. I think this is the first player in years who has such great skillset. MVP’s out of the picture with regards the Sacramento Kings, but he said he dropped out bec he wanted to study the NBA first. Hopefully he gets to buy one for Kiefer to play in!

      • Anti-heat says:

        Hold on, hold on. Ray Parks? Let’s keep our feet on the ground shall we :). Ravena is no doubt a phenomenal talent but Ray Parks for your info is a 3 star prospect (meaning he is at least one of the top 200 players in the US) when he was being recruited by Georgia Tech. What’s great about Kiefer is even though he isn’t tall for a SG (at least not yet) his skills are so advanced that it hardly ever matters. I’ll say this, Kiefer’s game is already tailor made for the pros but …. Ray Parks has height, muscle, athleticism that Kiefer lacks (for now) to add to his proven US hoops skills. On skills, in my opinion they are dead even, but Ray Park’s height and heft gives him the edge. Ray Parks will win ROY (if he’s eligible) unless they don’t win games.

      • talaga lang ha.. says:

        ray parks? parang wala pa ata nili-lead si kiefer for ateneo except winning the mvp for filoil na kahit i-check pa yung stats na filoil mismo naglabas questionable na siya ang nanalo mvp.. si ray parks di pa naglalaro officially sa UAAP na-lead na niya NU sa iba’t ibang pre-season crowns.. grocery ka rin sa hyper mart?

  • san besyoso says:

    kiefer – rookie of the year
    greg – MVP

  • SK says:

    sana tapos na ang Arena stadium sa MOA. First class ito at lahat kayong mga nandito ay magbabayad para manood ng UAAP dito sa future. utak-utak hihihi huhuhu

  • lj2 says:

    Actually you can compare Kiefer to Rayray, their games are different (Rayray is a scorer, Kiefer is more of a distributor, facilitator), their talent level is on par with each other….sa totoo lang, have observed their play sa filoil…..

    however, I doubt if Ray Parks can play this year….di ata ma-approve ng UAAP board e…..

  • bundok says:

    2 years lang maglalaro si slaughter right? coz he already played 3 years in CESAFI before he got pirated by admu?

  • goste says:

    i wonder why kiefer won filoil mvp if upon checking on all the stats, he’s not even in the top 5

  • 4peat says:

    I speculate they must making sense of the stats. A player with the best stats may be the reason for an awful team performance. Another perspective in the the other end of the spectrum………

  • on kiefer says:

    Kiefer really should’ve gone and played in the states! Yes, he’d is a superstar HERE, playing in the UAAP, but his learning curve won’t be as tremendous as playing against the big better boys in the USA. After all, your talents are truly honed when playing with bigger and better people, i.e especially American college players.

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