MANILA, Philippines—With still more than a month to go before he can play a competitive game of basketball, NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena is working overtime to get himself into game shape.
Ravena is expected to be a part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that will represent the country in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. They are already hard at work, holding practices twice weekly. On Monday, they had their first tune-up game against Mighty Sports, which ended in an 85-all deadlock.
But Ravena did not see action in the contest, as his suspension for using banned substances will not be lifted until August 24.
"Game shape-wise, it's really hard because I can't play," said Ravena. "So it's really hard to see or feel like how many percent pa ako, to a hundred percent, until I get to really play eh."
"It's kinda tough for me, and I know it's a little bit unfair for the other guys," he acknowledged.
Ravena, who was given the green light to practice with Gilas and with the NLEX Road Warriors last June 24, stressed that he was "doing my part" to make sure that he would be in good shape by the time he gets the go-signal to play.
"I've been practicing with NLEX and dito then I've been working out by myself," he said.
"I'm doing my part, I'm doing extra work, I'm here early, just to make sure when I get back, hindi na masyadong malaki ang adjustment kung aabot man ako," he also said. "If ever I come back and I feel that I'm already 70 to 80% ready, that's better for me, that's better for the team, 'di ba."
"I'm really putting myself in the best shape that I can, so by the time I play, wala na masyadong adjustments."
By the time Ravena gets to play, there will only be a week to go before they play in the World Cup. The former Ateneo star said he must be mentally tough to deal with the situation.
"You have to force yourself to return as quick as possible, siyempre, di ba? Not taking any days off," he said. "I'm not taking this for granted with the opportunity that I have in just being in the pool with these guys."
"But you know," Ravena also added, "I think I'll surprise a lot of people, in terms of my game shape."
Ravena is expected to join the national team for a brief training camp in Spain next month. They hope to play tune-up games there, and Ravena said he will do what he can to help even if he still cannot compete.
"I'm still part of this team, I'm still part of this pool, and I'll do everything. If they need extra bodies on practices, I'm more than ready to do so," said Ravena.
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