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MANILA, Philippines – In a stunning turnaround of public opinion on Gilas Pilipinas, often-criticized Kiefer Ravena is now the people’s choice for players who need more playing time in the ongoing 2023 FIBA World Cup, especially after the host nation’s loss to Dominican Republic last Friday, August 25.
Online clamor, however, hardly changes real-life game plans, and Ravena essentially got the same leash from head coach Chot Reyes in Gilas’ soul-crushing 80-70 home loss to Angola on Sunday, August 27.
Despite the minutes needle barely moving in his favor, the Japan B. League import kept a professional’s mindset with his role and praised fellow Asian league reinforcement Rhenz Abando – another Gilas player with short play time – in the same breath.
“Our time on the court is very limited, so we have to contribute and impact the game immediately,” Ravena said in Filipino. “We saw in the last game, when Rhenz and I entered, we were really ready. Now, you saw Rhenz really inject energy inside. That’s our role, and that’s why we always keep talking.”
Ravena, who squeezed out 2 points, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 7 minutes against the Dominicans, saw 9 minutes of court time against Angola, chipping in 3 points on 1-of-3 shooting.
Abando, meanwhile, made the most of his 5-minute window on Sunday, recording 2 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist on a team-high plus-minus of +8. Against the Dominican Republic, the Korean Basketball League champion only ran for 3 minutes, tallying 2 points off a crowd-popping dunk.
“We let one slip. It’s really tough to compete if you’re down 7-8 points with two minutes to go,” Ravena continued. “It’s really tough, but at the end of the day, we gave ourselves a shot at coming back, especially with Rhenz coming in off that last stretch, gave us a lot of energy, but came up short.”
In the midst of a disappointing home losing skid, Ravena asserted the importance of not losing sight of one’s role and purpose in a team, and why every member is important to the cause no matter how much playing time is given per game.
“There is no scaling of roles in the national team,” he said. “The first guy is just as important as the 12th man especially in these kinds of short tournaments where we need everyone’s help, so playing every role is important.”
“Communication is the only thing we can give one another, since we’re the only 12 men able to give their all on the court. We will not abandon one another until the end.”
Still technically in the hunt for a second-round spot, Gilas needs to stay locked in to its plans and principles as the intimidating world No. 10 Italy awaits as the final boss on Tuesday, August 29. – Rappler.com