MANILA—While he appeared to not miss a beat in his return to the hardcourt after more than a year, NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena acknowledged that he is still not yet in game shape.
Ravena practiced with Gilas Pilipinas on Monday evening, the first time he had taken part in an official basketball-related activity in 487 days.
The guard had been suspended by FIBA last year after testing positive for banned substances.
He can return to action on Aug. 24, but for now Ravena is already allowed to take part in practices.
NLEX and Gilas coach Yeng Guiao was impressed with Ravena's conditioning, noting that the guard's sharpness and stamina was already there despite having been out of action for 16 months.
Ravena said he kept in shape by playing golf and regulating his diet. It also helped that he went to the United States earlier this month to train.
"Golf, to keep my mind sharp," he said. "Golf is a sport that you play against yourself talaga. You have to be 110 percent focused na ikaw lang talaga, kasi you play against yourself more than anything else."
"(My trainers) kept me in good shape," Ravena also said. "Para pag humabol ako, hindi na ganoon kalayo 'yung hahabulin ko."
"And, pagdating naman sa court, you know, I think you guys know how competitive I am, hindi talaga ako magpapatalo. Mapa-kondisyon man 'yan o hindi, ilalaban ko talaga na andito na ako."
Until he finally takes part in full practice, however, Ravena won't know his level of fitness. He theorized on Monday evening that he was at "40 to 50 percent ready."
"Even ngayon, 'yung 5-on-5 is really different from really 5-on-5 na laro talaga," he pointed out.
"So, me personally I can't say, since I haven't tried it. So I guess doon ko lang makikita 'yung talagang up and downs, up and downs, once practice comes, doon ka lang mare-realize kung 'Okay, malayo pa ba' or 'Okay sige pacing na lang, maintenance na lang ang kailangan'," he said.
Ravena is certain, however, that he will be in top condition by Aug. 24, which is when he formally finishes his suspension and makes his competitive return.
"Come go time, I'll make sure na 100 percent na ako," he vowed.
For more sports stories, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.