MANILA, Philippines – Staying ready has worked wonders for Kiefer Ravena throughout his entire basketball career.
It definitely did in the Southeast Asian Games as he won his fifth straight gold medal in the regional meet at home soil after Gilas Pilipinas handily beat Thailand, 115-82, in the finals on Tuesday, December 10.
The 26-year-old almost saw his SEA Games gold streak end after being left out of the national team pool, with Tim Cone opting to go with a group of veterans.
But as faith would have it, Ravena eventually got the call-up from Cone to replace Jayson Castro, who injured his calf in the build-up to the SEA Games.
"It's a bit more special because first of all, it happened here in Manila. Second, what makes it more special is I wasn't even part of the pool," he said in a mix of Filipino and English regarding his fifth SEA Games.
"You just have to be ready. One lesson I learned is to just be ready and really play your best. During the time that the pool was assembled, I just needed to be ready anytime for anything that could happen."
The gold medal was not just for Ravena.
He also offered it to the team he saw action with in the FIBA World Cup, where the Philippines went winless in 5 games and finished dead-last.
"I dedicate this to my teammates in the World Cup. This is for them, for all the coaching staff who went to battle in China," Ravena said.
"They will always be a part of this gold medal, that team. I'm thankful for coach Tim, for all the management that still considered me for this SEA Games."
Although he already extended his record for most gold medals won by a Filipino in SEA Games basketball, Ravena does not count out the possibility of suiting up once more in the 2021 edition in Vietnam.
"I'm just 28 by then. Maybe I can still play. And maybe next time, I'll be with my brother Thirdy. We'll see." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.