Kiefer Ravena sees silver lining despite shock loss in SEA Games

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2022 02:52 PM

For Kiefer Ravena (L), getting to play with younger brother Thirdy was a highlight of the 31st SEA Games. PSC/POC Pool Photo.
For Kiefer Ravena (L), getting to play with younger brother Thirdy was a highlight of the 31st SEA Games. PSC/POC Pool Photo.

MANILA, Philippines -- Though he failed to add a sixth Southeast Asian Games gold medal to his collection, veteran guard Kiefer Ravena is choosing to look at the bright side of his experience in Hanoi, Vietnam.

A late addition to the Gilas Pilipinas squad to the 31st SEA Games, Ravena was hoping to extend his streak of success in the biennial competition. The guard has represented the Philippines in every SEA Games since 2011, each time winning a gold.

That run came to an end in Hanoi, however, as an 85-81 defeat to Indonesia in their final game forced the Filipinos to settle for a silver medal.

"Shock 'to lahat sa atin, hindi lang naman sa akin, 'no," Ravena said of the result. "'Yun na 'yung tinitingnan mo, papasok ka pa lang ng tournament -- sino makakalaban mo sa finals."

But the former Ateneo de Manila University star noted that it was not a completely unexpected result, given the growth of basketball in the region in recent years. Even in previous SEA Games, the Philippines found themselves in close games, usually against Thailand. 

Indonesia, one of the hosts of next year's FIBA World Cup, has also greatly invested in its men's basketball program. Rajko Toroman, a former head coach of Gilas, has been handling its program since 2019 and Indonesia recently naturalized former Duke University star Marques Bolden.

"As the game expands, the players get better, the countries grow, and make different tactics, different strategies to beat the Philippines, especially with our neighboring countries," said Ravena.

"That's what happened, that's what Indonesia did. Credit where credit is due, they fought hard," he added.

Yet Ravena still has positive takeaways from the experience. What was most important for him was that he got to share the experience with his younger brother, Thirdy, who played for the first time in the SEA Games.

"I think it could have been worse. I think the effort was there, just fell short," he said. "The silver lining is, I was able to do such an event, such a feat with my brother."

The disappointing result of their SEA Games campaign has generated plenty of criticism for the Gilas program, with head coach Chot Reyes bearing the brunt of the online vitriol. Ravena, who has heard his fair share of criticism, stressed that they gave their all in Hanoi.

"I can't take away the efforts that my coaching staff and my team gave all throughout that tournament," he said.

Ravena has already said the Hanoi SEA Games will be his last, although he is expected to be called up for the upcoming FIBA tournaments in July.