MANILA, Philippines -- Kiefer Ravena has been included in the 15-man pool of Gilas Pilipinas for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, taking the place of the injured Jayson Castro.
The NLEX guard showed up on Monday at the Meralco Gym to observe the national team's tune-up game against Alab Pilipinas.
"My understanding is, the SBP has approved and got the Southeast Asian Games' approval for him to be on the 15 (pool)," Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone said after the game, won by the national team 98-95.
Gilas Pilipinas team manager Gabby Cui confirmed that they got clearance from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to include Ravena in the pool, as a spot opened up after Castro's injury forced him to back out.
"He'll be part of the pool. Especially that Jayson can't play anymore, 'di ba? So we need someone to.. When Jayson went down, who else can come and replace Jayson, it was Kiefer," said Cui
Cone revealed that he would have played Ravena against Alab, if not for a "back issue" that the guard sustained during the Road Warriors' practice.
"I think he's just a natural, he would have picked up things and played a natural type game that we would want to see. And Yeng Guiao's offense is very unique, but it's got some of the elements that we do, that we're doing. So I don't think it will be a stretch for Kiefer to run our offense," he said.
But Cone makes it clear that there is no assurance that Ravena will make it to the final 12-man line-up that will represent the Philippines in the SEA Games, which begins later this month.
Ravena has already won four SEA Games gold medals.
"Whether he makes the final 12, that's another question. It's still, we still gotta remove 3 players from the pool to go forward. But in the meantime, it's an extra body, it's another talent," said Cone.
"We're all gonna miss Jayson terribly, but Kiefer has some of that Jayson ability in him," he added. "We're gonna lose the experience of Jayson, but Kiefer has got that kinda rare maturity, that kinda lends himself to be able to play with a bunch of vets and still be a leader."
Ravena, for his part, was grateful just to be of help.
"First things first, siguro ayokong makagulo sa nangyayari sa kanila ngayon kasi I mean, you see the team. You know, they’re complete already," he said.
"But with coach Tim, it’s a learning opportunity for me and I’m very thankful for that, for the management in considering me to be part of the team or the pool."