The final buzzer is nearing for 2019 and with that, the decade is coming to a close as well. Before the 2010s turns over into the 2020s, take a look back at the best basketball moments of the decade for the SLAM PH Team.
By normal standards, the Kiefer Ravena dagger with just over three minutes left against Thailand in the SEA Games 2017 was probably not that big of a shot.
The Philippines already had a two-point lead. There were more than three minutes of basketball left to play. It was only the Preliminary Round in a tournament which the Philippines are always expected to cruise to the championship game. Heck, you could ever argue that Baser Amer’s shot a minute later had more impact.
But there are layers to this specific instance that made it one of my personal moments of the decade.
Peeling off the surface, this was Kiefer’s biggest shot of the 2017 SEA Games. Though the shot didn’t immediately win the gold medal itself, it played a role in the Philippines getting to the top of the podium once again.
As a result, Kiefer became a part of Gilas’ 12th straight SEA Games gold medal and 17th overall, while bagging his personal fourth straight gold which was most ever in SEA Games Men’s Basketball.
Legendary stuff, to be honest.
Digging down a bit deeper to a more personal level, it was a shot that hit me right where it hurt.
I didn’t know at the time since I was sitting on the edge of my seat and quietly biting off my nails at MABA Stadium, but here is how the play was called on the air:
“Jong Uichico clearly drew up a play…”
“Oh, what a shot. That’s clutch!”
Now, I can only agree to half of that commentary.
It did not look like a drawn up play. Maybe if the pass went slung over to Ray Parks who open was in the opposite corner, I could have agreed.
Nope, it went to Baser and back to Kiefer who seemed stuck in the corner surrounded by two Thai defenders as he half-twisted his torso up for the jumper with half of his foot inside the arc and the shot clock winding down.
It was a broken play and a bad shot out of desperation, but it went down. So, yeah, I can agree that it was, indeed, clutch.
The shot was a gut punch not only in the moment itself, but the memory it triggered to two years prior.
Kiefer had already hit a killer clutch dagger in 2015 over Thailand and the shot in 2017 only ripped open the barely healed wound. The two players cornering Kiefer in 2017 were Kannut Samerjai and Chanachon Klahan, both of who also played in the 2015 game.
Samerjai was even on the court for both shots, and both times he could only watch as the leather took on its trajectory straight into the basket.
Thailand played almost 20 seconds of good defense – with Kiefer even missing the three earlier in the possession – and were rewarded by getting nailed on a broken play.
There was still plenty more basketball left to play, as mentioned, and the Thai players definitely fought until the final second… but Kiefer’s shot surely knocked out the wind of a contender trying to rally and overtake the throne.
“Oh, what a shot. That’s clutch!” indeed, sir.
However, the significance of this shot goes deeper than the implications on the court.
As the shot fell through – only a few seconds after this was tweeted.
A few seconds later, my phone erupted with notifications.
Many were there to pile on the Gilas victory, while others also showed sympathy and respect for a good game. I was already in an arena surrounded by hundreds of fans. But somehow after that shot, it felt like I was watching the game with even more people.
I wasn’t personally fond of the moment for obvious reasons, but the Kiefer Dagger in SEA Games 2017 was significant – to me, at least – for how it helped make the basketball world seem a lot smaller.
Whichever side we were rooting for; it was a moment that we could both relate with. Kiefer’s shot widened the gap in the score between the two teams, but it also brought me closer to a lot of other people in the basketball world. It may have conjured up some pain from the past. But it also opened up to a lot of comfort from online strangers miles away.
It’s a moment that I would have totally wanted to go the other way if I had a time machine to go back and force a do-over. But in spite of the result from the shot on the court, it is one basketball moment in this past decade that I’m thankful for because of the friendships I had gained off the court since.