Gilas Pilipinas may have lost against the Adelaide 36ers in their second exhibition match on Sunday night, but the sight of Kiefer Ravena back in the country’s colors somehow eases the defeat.
The 25-year-old “Phenom” has been officially cleared to participate in a basketball game after serving a dreadfully long 18-month ban from FIBA after being flagged by the World Anti-Doping Agency for an illegal substance.
Ravena was one of the few bright spots in Gilas Pilipinas’ 95-85 setback at the Meralco Gym, as he was only one of only two players to finish in double-figure scoring for coach Yeng Guiao’s squad.
The 6’0 guard came off the bench and subbed in at the 3:51 mark of the first quarter. It took him just a few minutes to settle in, firing seven points in succession early in the second canto to help the home team trim Adelaide’s early deficit.
Ravena showed his full arsenal during his personal mini-run, scoring on a breakaway layup, a long distance bomb and a contested perimeter jumper that delighted both his coaches and teammates.
Kiefer would finish as the team’s second leading scorer behind Andray Blatche, clocking in 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field (62 percent) in just 17 minutes of play. He added two assists and one steal, but also turned the ball over thrice.
He nailed one of his three attempts from beyond the arc (33 percent), but wasn’t able to get himself a trip to the foul line.
It also helps that Ravena has kept himself in tremendous shape during his forced hiatus, and has continued to be around for Gilas even when he was not allowed to suit up in games.
The two-time UAAP MVP has willingly served as a warm body in practices since he was given the green light back in June, and even played the role of “Gilas correspondent” during the team’s 10-day training camp in Guadalajara, Spain.
Even with the long layoff, Guiao has shown utmost belief in his NLEX Road Warriors point guard, adding him in the national team’s final 12 for the World Cup, alongside fellow youngsters Robert Bolick and CJ Perez.
No doubt Gilas Pilipinas will face an uphill climb in the FIBA World Cup, especially with the absence of Jayson Castro at the point. Still, things are looking up for the Philippines, especially with Ravena officially back in the fold.