August 24, 2019

Timely Kiefer Ravena comeback a boost for Gilas in second game against 36ers

KIEFER Ravena considers it the rebirth of his basketball career.

After a long wait, the 18-month ban meted by FIBA on Ravena was formally lifted Saturday, making the NLEX sophomore guard eligible to play for Gilas Pilipinas in its second tune-up game against the visiting Adelaide 36ers on Sunday.

There was no elaborate celebration heralding the return of the 25-year-old player nicknamed 'The Phenom,' who spent the first day of his basketball comeback practicing with the national team at the Meralco gym.

Coach Yeng Guiao disclosed Ravena will have his first taste of competitive action in more than a year when the national team faces the 36ers anew at the Meralco gym.

The Gilas coach doesn't see Ravena showing rustiness in his game since he's been training with the national team for two months now.

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He even joined the squad during its 10-day training camp in Spain, although he didn't see action in the two-game friendlies with Congo and Ivory Coast and during the mini pocket tournament featuring world no. 2 Spain since the playing dates were still covered by his FIBA sanction.

"Kiefer kept himself in really good shape. He worked very hard. He's mentally strong, he has high basketball IQ," said Guiao of the young guard from Ateneo.

He expects Ravena to struggle a little bit in the early minutes of his comeback, but believes the no.2 overall pick of the 2017 draft will get his game going once he finally settles down.

"Ako sa tingin ko mangangapa siya in the first few minutes but he'll get his game back," said Guiao.

"I have a high confidence that he can do that. May kaunting adjustment, may kaunting transition, pero once he gets going, he'll be ok."

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Gilas Pilipinas beat the 36ers in their initial encounter on Friday night, 92-83. (RG)