Top amateur player Kiefer Ravena is keeping his options open as he waits in suspense for the Gilas cadet program.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is reportedly reviving the program that produced present PBA rising stars Mark Barroca, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Mac Baracael, Aldrech Ramos, JVee Casio and Chris Tiu as FIBA is set to introduce a new qualifying tournament format and schedule that could run smack to the PBA’s calendar.
Ravena and Kevin Ferrer, who have been religiously attending the Gilas practices since their UAAP careers have ended, are reportedly being eyed to lead the new cadet pool.
“Siyempre, sino ba naman ang may ayaw sa ganun? Siyempre, it gives opportunities to other players who would like to represent the country rin and at the same time, it gives stability to the program of the national team,” Ravena told FOX Sports.
“Kumbaga, grassroots ‘yun at least, kung hindi puwede ang mga kuya namin sa PBA, may magre-represent sa atin. At least sa ganun, consistent ang practice at hindi lang basta hinugot kung saang-saang liga. May chemistry at anytime, any tournament, may maasahan kang malakas at well-prepared national team,” added Ravena, who has won 3 SEA Games and 1 SEABA gold medals.
Gilas I, which ran for 3 years under Rajko Toroman and reinforced by Marcus Douthit, however, only managed to land 4th in the 2011 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship. The shortcoming prompted the SBP and PBA to reach an accord that guaranteed an all-pro national team. The next 2 Gilas iterations brought the country to the last FIBA World Cup in 2015 and 2 silver medal finishes in the Asian championships.
If the Gilas Cadet program doesn’t push through, Ravena is expected to become one of the top picks in a talent-laden class with UAAP batchmates Ferrer, Ed Daquioag, Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, and RR Pogoy, and La Salle towers Arnold van Opstal and Jason Perkins.
“(Pero) sa ngayon ang focus namin nila Kevin (Ferrer) eh makatulong sa national team natin na ma-prepare sila for July (FIBA Olympic Qualifiers),” Ravena said.
“You have to take it one day at a time habang wala pa ang Gilas cadet program. We have to prepare for the draft, for our future,” he added.
Aside from Gilas’s once-a-week practice, the 2-time UAAP MVP will also be seeing action for expansion team Mighty Sports in the PCBL to keep himself in tip-top shape.
“Hindi naman kami nagmamadali. Kevin has D-League while ako naman I’m preparing for the draft so I might play in the PCBL. I’m doing it to get better, siyempre magagaling at matatanda (may mga experience) na makakalaban ko dun),” said Ravena.
“It’s a proving ground. It’s a good test to where I am right now,” he added. — By AA