While Gilas is favored to retain the Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball title, former UAAP star Kiefer Ravena admitted Gilas Pilipinas has a big target on its back this August when Malaysia hosts the biennial conclave in Kuala Lumpur.
Ravena, on Tuesday evening, was named to the 12-man Gilas roster by coach Chot Reyes.
The “Phenom” has a chance to win a record fourth SEA Games gold medal, but knows that would be easier said than done.
“Of course we’re in for a dogfight,” Ravena pointed out, after attending his first Gilas practice on Tuesday. “I was watching the SEABA Championships here (in Manila), even on TV, and from what I’ve heard and what I saw, that was their (Gilas opponents) preparation for the SEA Games.”
“So bigger target on our backs. Each and everyone of us will be playing, and you know, we have to be aware of that, and we have to see and really accept the fact that some of the teams are already improving, and it won’t be as easy as before or the previous years,” he added.
Ravena said it was just 2 years back when Thailand and Indonesia gave the Philippines, then known as Sinag, the scare of their lives.
The Thais led at times during their semifinal encounter before eventually bowing down to the Filipinos, 80-75. The Indons also gave Ravena and Co. some anxious moments in the dying minutes of the gold medal game, before eventually losing to the Philippines, 72-64.
“They (Thais and Indons) have a program that’s really set, na talagang one of these years, tatalunin natin ang Pilipinas. And we won’t let that happen,” vowed Ravena.
As a seasoned SEA Games athlete, Ravena said he won’t hesitate to remind his Gilas teammates how serious of a task it is to defend the country’s throne in the region.
“I guess it’s very important to share that knowledge, share that glory na ito yung mararamdaman mo sa SEA Games, it’s not gonna be a walk in the park, tulad ng sinasabi nila na sure-ball yan, it won’t,” he added.
Aside from Ravena, also bannering the SEA Games-bound Gilas squad are Alaska rookie Carl Cruz, Ginebra’s Kevin Ferrer and Rain or Shine’s Mike Tolomia, along with Asean Basketball League MVP Bobby Ray Parks.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH