Kiefer: 'Got that monkey off my back in the PBA'

Kiefer Ravena's much-anticipated return to the PBA lived up to the hype, as he returned to the NLEX Road Warriors with a bang.

Over 490 days bridged Ravena's last two games with NLEX, as he served an 18-month suspension handed out by FIBA for testing positive to a banned substance. "Got that monkey off my back in the PBA," said the former Ateneo standout.

His mentor with club and country Yeng Guiao saw how his floor general beamed with enthusiasm during the game, which resulted to a positive start to the season.

"Kiefer is a little bit too excited. He really wanted to give a good showing and be a leader for this team. Sometimes he needs to control that enthusiasm. But he's a smart guy. You tell something once or twice and sticks and he's able to absorb the lesson," shared Guiao.

The Road Warriors won 123-116 against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, with Ravena making a huge contribution of 20 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

More importantly, the team finally got their much needed floor spacer, which paid dividends quickly against a tough Phoenix side.

NLEX hit 20 three pointers on 47.6% shooting, and had 30 assists. Ravena took advantage of it early, as he swished all of his four threes in the first quarter alone.

"That's what coach has been waiting for all along," said Ravena in Filipino. "Without Kevin [Alas], who used to attract the defense, we need to have at least 25 assists in a game."

In Ravena's only complete conference thus far, NLEX made the semis of the Philippine Cup, but with his return, they aim for a higher finish this time behind import Olu Ashaolu.

"We've added a few pieces, big pieces. Jericho [Cruz], Olu, and Poy [Erram], so hopefully it's a different story this team that can go through sa next level, we made the semis, hopefully we can make the finals this time."