JAKARTA – Gilas Pilipinas has been sailing in choppy seas for most of the year. And Kiefer Ravena is very aware of this.
Thus, the biggest responsibility he has on his shoulders is to make sure the ship stays stable, especially now that the FIBA Asia Cup has started.
“Sometimes it’s going to be tough and all, but as long as nobody sails overboard or jumps and abandons ships, we’re still the same team,” said the 29-year-old, who is responsible for leading the team alongside Ray Parks.
“As a leader, that’s what I try to do: keep everyone on the same page, keep everyone in the same boat,” he continued.
The program has drawn so much criticism since the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) decision to replace Tab Baldwin with the return of Chot Reyes on the eve of the Lunar New Year last January.
Success, coincidentally, was hard to come by for Filipino dribblers from then on. In the opening window of the World Cup qualifiers in Manila last February, the team only split their assignments after being knocked out by New Zealand.
And arguably Gilas’ lowest point came last May, when the country saw the end of its 33-year reign in Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball at the hands of the new King Indonesia, co-host of the 2023 World Cup.
Injuries have also become a concern for the team, which started with Ange Kouame as the naturalized center suffered an ACL injury last June.
The others went on to be injured one after another, including cornerstone Dwight Ramos – which is why he won’t be able to join some of his peers for the continental showpiece to be held in the Indonesian capital.
Even Ravena himself is facing his own issues, primarily his contract situation with NLEX in the PBA and current parent team Shiga in the B.League.
A lot of misfortunes have certainly aggravated the squad as they prepare for next year’s Worlds, but Ravena are doing their best to be a rock for the youngsters.
“As they say, tough sailors come from rough seas”, offered the legend of Ateneo, who is playing his very first Asian Cup. “Itong mga bagay na ‘to is an opportunity for us to overcome mental, physical and spiritual challenges.
“And I think the fire, the hunger of these young guys with the veterans, it’s a good mix and naming with enthusiasm can prove kami and rise to the challenge and seize this opportunity which is ahead of our careers.”