The Phenom never forgets

So much can happen over the course of a year in basketball. A long-awaited comeback. A disappointing run. A heartbreaking upset. Sadly, even the death of a hero. These memories each carry their own special set of emotions and these feelings are like a glue to a person’s heart.

The more glue there is, the more likely something will stick on a piece of paper just like the more emotion there is, the more likely a memory is to stick in your heart.

For Kiefer Ravena, one specific moment has stuck in his mind over the course of one year.

The PBA Press Corps announced their 2019 All-Rookie Team January of last year. It was a reasonable list that had Rookie of the Year Jason Perkins, Jeron Teng, Paul Zamar, Robbie Herndon, and Christian Standhardinger. But one name was evidently missing: Kiefer’s.

Several fans questioned why Kiefer didn’t make it to the line-up. The reasoning of the Press Corps was simple and concrete: he didn’t play enough games. But the reason as to why Kiefer didn’t play enough games is what’s remained etched in people’s minds. On May 2018, he was suspended by FIBA for consuming a recovery drink with ingredients deemed illegal, which also meant he couldn’t play during the 2018 PBA season anymore.

His haters feasted during the time Kiefer was away from basketball. Kiefer listened to all his haters. He watched how he wasn’t named into the All-Rookie Team despite a stellar showing during his first PBA season. He never forgot. So much so, he even pinned this tweet to his profile:

So much has happened ever since that tweet was published. He returned from his suspension. He failed terribly in the FIBA World Cup. He dominated during the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup only to be upset by the 8th seeded Batang Pier. Despite all of those emotional events, his pinned tweet has remained the same ever since. It stuck. Kiefer hasn’t forgotten and this upcoming PBA season may just be his opportunity at washing away the bitter taste of his suspension.

A group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania documented what they called the “fresh start effect.” Temporal landmarks such as the new year, a new month or a new day motivate people to aspire for greater things. This may be a diet or learning a new hobby such as making for most people.

For Kiefer, his temporal landmark is this new PBA season. It’s the perfect opportunity for him to remind everyone of how good he is as a basketball player.

What faces Kiefer this upcoming season is a PBA that’s the widest open it’s been both from the perspective of his team and as an individual. With the San Miguel Beermen battered with injuries, teams are now expected to pounce and aspire to go all-in for the Philippine Cup. Early favorites are Barangay Ginebra, the Magnolia Hotshots, and the TNT KaTropa, but a team that could sneak its way into contention are the NLEX Road Warriors. They may have traded away JP Erram but they still have elite talent in their team who could bring them to the promised land.

Which brings us to Kiefer. The opportunity is ripe for him to produce at a high level and lead NLEX to a run for the Philippine Cup title. In the process, Kiefer may re-introduce himself again to Philippine Basketball for what he was known before his suspension: a Phenom. He’s been called a basketball genius for his incredible IQ of the game and his leadership has been lauded for years. But sadly, others have forgotten these about Kiefer.

But Kiefer hasn’t forgotten. He never forgets. The praises, the titles given to him, but most importantly, the words that have been said by his doubters. These emotions, aside from being sheer glue to his heart, also serves as fuel. It’s the only thing he needs at this point to leap his way back into the PBA elite.

Maybe by the end of this season, his pinned tweet will change into a happier moment. An MVP award. A place in the Mythical Five. Maybe even a championship. Moments so emotionally strong, they undoubtedly stick.