MANILA, Philippines – Kiefer Ravena is a veteran at the Southeast Asian level of basketball, having represented the Philippines in various regional tournaments since he was a teenager.
But the upcoming FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China marks the first time that Ravena will get to wear national team colors in a five-on-five tournament at the continental level.
Ravena, a two-time UAAP MVP, will team up with Jeron Teng, LA Revilla, Raymar Jose, and Almond Vosotros, among others, in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas club team that will represent the Philippines in the competition. The squad will be beefed up by imports Isaiah Austin and Rod Ebondo.
“Kung titingnan mo, first ko nga talaga na ganito,” said Ravena on Tuesday, when the line-up was formally announced after weeks of uncertainty. “Hindi mo naman dini-disregard ang SEA Games at ang SEABA. Mataas din naman ang level ng competition doon.”
“Pero in terms of Asian basketball, this is my highest, ‘di ba? Iba naman ang 3-on-3 ng world. Iba pa rin naman ‘yun sa 5-on-5,” added Ravena, who previously teamed up with Teng, Jose, and Kobe Paras for the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Nantes, France last June.
There is already pressure on Ravena to take the reins for the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas team, with head coach Chot Reyes declaring that the former Ateneo de Manila University superstar should be one of the leaders of the young squad.
“He’s been here for a long time, he understands the system, and he’s been with the team for quite a while already,” Reyes said.
Ravena, for his part, said he is ready for the challenge and is eager to once again test his skills at the international level.
“I want to make the most out of it,” he said of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup experience. “This is another opportunity for me to get exposed internationally, with the way I play.”
“Ako, ‘yun lang ang goal ko – to really help this team and the coaching staff to win,” he added.
Ravena is upbeat that their team can progress through the next phase of the competition, as they were drawn into a relatively friendly group. Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas is in Group A along with BC Astana of Kazakhstan, Petrochimi of Iran, Mono Vampire of Thailand, and Sareyyet Ramallah from Palestine.
“Hopefully, we can win as many games as we can,” said Ravena. “But again, it’s a test of character, a test of willingness to win.”
“Ito ‘yung mga games na every game, grind it out talaga kasi ‘yun nga, maraming bagay na missing in action ngayon,” he added. “Players, oras sa practice, tsaka ‘yung sistema, hindi pa gamay ng lahat.”
“Minsan, hahanap at hahanap ka na lang ng paraan.”
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