Kiefer Ravena and Ray Parks did not disappoint in their first PBA showdown as NLEX and Blackwater met on Sunday.
Both budding stars were stellar as Parks fired 28 points (9-for-22 from the field, 6-for-11 3-pointers), four rebounds, six assists and two steals to lead all locals in scoring, while Ravena countered with 25 (8-for-22 shooting, seven rebounds, seven assists and a steal).
But in a high-octane matchup that saw the league's record for most 3s in a game shattered, it was Ravena who had the last laugh as the Road Warriors grabbed their third straight victory by keeping the Elite winless so far in the conference.
"More than anything else, you can throw all the stats away. I'm sure he'll agree with it. The most important thing is carrying out the victory," Ravena said after the game.
Ravena did acknowledge that it was good to get the win after for NLEX's loss in the Commissioner's Cup to Blackwater on June 8. Parks scored a career-high 29 points against an NLEX side that did not have Ravena -- as he was serving his 18-month FIBA suspension.
"He beat us when I wasn't playing and we're now even since we beat them. As long as both of us are good competitors, great competitors, we wouldn't care less about our stats as long as we win," he said.
Ravena's and Parks' careers have run along parallel tracks so far. Both budding stars entered the UAAP in 2011 before going on to win two MVP awards each. The two also tried out in the NBA G-League and played for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2017 SEA Games before declaring for the PBA Draft a year apart.
"I guess it's a long time coming. It's been a while since we faced each other," Ravena said.
After getting one on the board against Parks, the 25-year-old guard is still focused on keeping NLEX's eyes on the goal of trying to come up with a winning conference for the first time this season. Next up on the team's schedule is a Dubai matchup against the San Miguel Beermen on October 5 at the Coca-Cola Arena.
"We finally attained our short-term goal of winning our first three games before going to Dubai," said Ravena. "... I'm not contented about what's happening right now. There's still a lot of room for improvement because it's still early, it's just 3-0. I hope this continues," he added.