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The Remarkable Ravenas.

No wonder every member of the Ravena family thrives in competition when even the littlest of things-say, a race for the remote control-turns into a contest.

'It's the competitive nature that comes with being an athlete,' says Kiefer Ravena, one of the country's top amateur basketball players. 'When everyday you're competitive, even at home, you carry it in real life. When you're outside, you don't want to lose.'

The Ravenas-father Bong, a former PBA stalwart; mother Mozzy, a former volleyball standout; and other kids Thirdy, Ateneo's current top gunner; and Dani, a promising high school spiker-all point to Kiefer as the most zealous in winning. (And yes, that includes getting the remote first.)

'He has out-of-this-world competitiveness,' Mozzy says of her eldest son.

'It's not just basketball,' adds Thirdy. 'He always tries to look for his edge. It's really in his nature to be competitive.'

ravena sibs

As intense as Kiefer may be on and off the court, the former Ateneo star thinks he and his siblings owe a lot to their parents not only for infusing them with athletic genes, but also for getting their sporting careers in motion.

'The advantage is they paved the way for us,' says Kiefer, the 22-year-old prolific scorer who captured the UAAP Most Valuable Player plum twice.

'Compared to the path our dad took to basketball, ours was smoother. After what he did in his career, he laid out what we had to do. If it wasn't for him, it might have been different. And with our mama's guidance, somehow it was easier.'

But growing up, Kiefer had to deal with comparisons to Bong, a high-flying swingman with a collection that includes PBA championships, the 1992 Rookie of the Year and the 1997 Most Improved Player plums.

ravena couple

'It was hard before because ever since I was young, there's already pressure,' Kiefer admits. 'But the advantage was [dad] was the one saying that I can do more than what he had achieved.'

Mozzy thinks it is toughest on Thirdy. Not only does he gets compared to Bong, but also to the highly popular Kiefer, who boasts highlight reels of clutch plays in the UAAP, and even on the international stage where he started early as a national youth team player.

'I told them it's natural to be compared,' shares Bong. 'It's part of the career they've chosen and they're brothers who play the same sport, so just take it as a challenge. When people criticize, I tell them they're concerned about you. It only means you have to do better. You need it to motivate yourself more.'

Thirdy has learned to take everything in stride now that he's taken over his brother as leader of the Blue Eagles, three years after an impressive high school career in Ateneo where he also won UAAP MVP honors.

'It came to a point when I'm not thinking [of the comparisons] anymore,' says the 19-year-old Thirdy. 'Rather than compare myself to them, I just try to absorb the things they teach me. I turned it into an advantage. It's like having two extra coaches.'

While the Ravenas see Kiefer as the most competitive, they agree that Thirdy is the most athletically gifted.

'Thirdy is born to play basketball,' Kiefer says of his taller, younger brother, who stands 6-foot-2. 'We used to be hard on Thirdy because we wanted him to realize how good he is. We were really pushing him to the limit.'

'He's the typical athlete-tall, long, athletic,' notes Bong. 'I know he can improve more. He has great potential.'

Despite playing other sports, only daughter Dani has, by now, gotten used to her name getting attached to the Ravena boys.

'It doesn't really annoy me, but it's more of a motivation for me,' says the 16-year-old Dani, who switched from badminton to volleyball. 'I want to prove that I can make a name for myself. I just don't want to be called as the sister of, or the daughter of. I want to be Dani, a good volleyball player.'

And the 5-foot-5 Dani may turn out to be that, now that she's a rising setter for Miriam College's high school volleyball team.

'Growing up, I saw my brothers playing a sport and I saw their achievements were really good,' shares Dani. 'For me, it was a good challenge that I grew up surrounded by athletes so I know that it takes sacrifice, time and effort to achieve those. Until now it's still a challenge-that I can also do something great, that I can prove myself, and that I'm also good in my own field.'

While the Ravenas may always be up for challenges, it's not the only thing that makes their clan click.

'What I like most about our family is the support we give each other,' says Dani. 'Win or lose after a game, we still believe in each other, we push each other. I think that's what makes us unique-the support system we have is very good.'

'We just like the company of each other,' adds Thirdy. 'We're happy when we're together. We really cherish the time we have because we usually have different schedules. So all the time that we can grasp, all the free time that we can get, we really cherish that.'

Bong and Mozzy think there's nothing more they can ask for from their talented brood.

'When they were young, I was looking forward for them to become athletes,' shares Bong. 'I thought they'll be regular athletes or they'll just be interested in basketball. But what they've achieved, it's overwhelming. I was surprised. I really didn't expect it.'

'It's a bonus that they're achievers,' says Mozzy. 'The blessing really is not their achievements, but they turned out to be really good kids.'

Good, and very much rooted, as the Ravenas make sure their house serves as their home court for fun and family.

'We usually have busy schedules, so our house is our common area,' says Kiefer. 'Kwentuhan na lang (we just exchange stories), it's where we relax.'

'We try to be a regular family-kenkoy (silly), funny,' adds Mozzy. 'People just think it's complicated with us because we're all athletes. But really, we're just simple folks.'
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Oct 23, 2016
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