MANILA, Philippines – Kiefer Ravena can't wait to join his first team practice in over a year with the NLEX Road Warriors.
"I've been doing my job staying in tip-top shape, doing a lot of extra work by myself on and off the court," said Ravena, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft.
Under FIBA regulations, Ravena may join team practices beginning June 24, 2019, or two months before the end of his period of ineligibility.
The Road Warriors, however, will be coming from an out-of-town PBA game and will take June 24 off. As such, Ravena is expected to practice with Gilas Pilipinas on June 24 before joining NLEX on June 25.
Ravena won't deny that not being able to play basketball has been difficult, but he stressed that this was not a reason for him to quit working on his game.
"It's about being mentally tough, rising above the occasion," he said.
During his suspension, Ravena has kept himself busy by raising awareness and being involved in anti-doping education programs. These seminars and talks, which are intended for athletes as well as team officials, coaches, and other stakeholders, helped national athletes prepare for the 2018 Asian Games.
Ravena also expressed his gratitude to NLEX management for standing by him through the difficult period. Apart from supporting his various advocacies, NLEX has partnered with Ravena to direct his influence towards meaningful areas.
The "Phenom" is the face of the company's "KakSaDa" (Kaligtasan Sa Daan) initiative, which promotes road safety awareness among NLEX-SCTEX host communities and schools through educational games and workshops.
"I'm in an organization that trusted me, who kept me, and knew that I would still do my job whether I’m playing or not," Kiefer says. "It's my duty to give it back to this organization that by the time comes na ready ako, it’s as if I was never gone."
Ravena will be eligible to play with the team starting August 24, 2019, and he said he is raring to go.
"All I wanna do is get back to the court, play with NLEX, play with my team," he says. "The semifinals, hopefully the finals, and someday bring a championship here to NLEX."
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