Kiefer Ravena will officially be taking the injured Jayson Castro’s place in coach Tim Cone’s 15-man Gilas Pilipinas pool that will compete in the 30th Southeast Asian Games this December.
The NLEX Road Warriors guard will join a stacked backcourt that includes LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle, Scottie Thompson, Chris Ross as well as shooters Marcio Lassiter and Matthew Wright.
With the amount of talent that coach Cone has at his disposal, does Ravena have a chance of making the final cut, especially with just under a month left until the tournament?
At just 26 years old, Ravena undoubtedly has the most experience when it comes to facing our Southeast Asian neighbours, having played for the flag in the last four editions of the regional multi-sporting event.
Coach Tim will no doubt prefer to have a floor general familiar with his schemes, given the small window of preparation the national team has for the event. The legendary triangle offense, after all, is not something you can master overnight and can be quite complicated even for the most experienced playmakers out there.
But Ravena, like his nickname suggests, is a “Phenom”, whose high basketball IQ and vast international exposure could offset his unfamiliarity with the new national team system.
Sure, he got some flak after a lackluster outing in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but his recent exploits in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup prove that Ravena is indeed back to form and actually looks better than ever.
As far as the playing field in the SEA Games is concerned, Gilas will undoubtedly face much lesser competition, compared to when they took on the best teams in the world last September.
With the team nearing its final preparations, it might be hard for Ravena to break into the final 12. It is quite possible that he might be relegated to just being an additional body during practices.
It might be easier for coach Cone to stick with his old reliables Tenorio and Pringle, while Ross’ defensive chops also seems too good to pass up.
But one thing’s for sure, Ravena is still a supreme talent and will be big asset for Gilas Pilipinas whether or not he suits up for the country anew come December.
(Images from PBA)