Kiefer Ravena will become the latest inclusion in the Gilas Pilipinas national pool for the coming Southeast Asian Games.
This development was confirmed by team executive Gabby Cui to FOX Sports Philippines during Monday night’s practice session at the Meralco Gym.
“When Jayson (Castro) got injured, Coach Tim Cone went to the SBP and SBP cleared it with PHISGOC and they said they can still have Kiefer in the pool, since the final 12 will be submitted later on pa naman,” Cui said.
Ravena will take over the spot vacated by Castro, who injured his ankle more than a week ago and will be sidelined for the next six weeks.
Cone batted for the inclusion of Ravena to replace Castro, although there’s no guarantee the second-generation player would make it to the final line-up.
The comebacking national team mentor wanted to have a 15-man pool to give them an opportunity to play 5-on-5-on-5, something the winningest mentor has been doing during live drills.
But more than that, the owner of the league’s two PBA grand slams, is convinced Ravena is the logical choice to replace Castro because of his skillset and maturity.
“He’s a talented kid. He has great maturity for his age and I think he will fit well with all the veterans on the team even though he’s younger,” Cone added. “We’ll gonna lose Jayson, which is a huge blow. We kinda got a young Castro in Kiefer Ravena. We’re gonna miss Jayson’s experience, that’s for sure.”
Filling in the shoes vacated by the former Best Point Guard in Asia would be a tough task for Ravena, but Cone sees a lot of upside on the youthful quarterback of the NLEX Road Warriors.
“Kiefer won’t be able to make up for that (experience of Castro), but Kiefer has played big games throughout his career, big moments and played good games already,” added Cone.
According to Cone, Ravena’s willingness to be part of the Gilas pool to the SEA Games at the last minute made him the logical choice to take over the spot of ‘The Blur.’
“Some people would say, ‘hey, you didn’t pick me right away, so I don’t want to play’, but Kiefer wants to play. In fact, he could have played today (tune up game against Alab Pilipinas), but he had a back issue. If he was healthy, he would have played tonight,” added Cone.
For Cone, he believes Ravena just wanted to play and be part of the veteran-laden team and thinks the young cager is not doing it with a chip on his shoulder.
“I don’t think he has something to prove. Everybody knows how good of a player he is. I don’t want players coming in here and feels he has something to prove. I want players coming here and focused on winning,” added Cone. “That’s why I picked a whole bunch of veterans because they’re beyond doing that. They’re just out there to win and doing what it takes to win — whether they’re sacrificing themselves or stepping up at the big moment and wining the game. They would defer to each other.”