FOR Kiefer Ravena the gold he won with Gilas Pilipinas last Tuesday was the sweetest, more special than the four other ones he has copped in the Southeast Asian Games.
“It’s a bit more special siyempre dahil unang-una, dito nangyari sa Manila,” Ravena said moments after he and the national team manhandled Thailand 115-81 in the basketball finals match at the packed Mall of Asia Arena.
“Pangalawa, what makes it more special is nu’ng una, I wasn’t even part of the pool na makakalaro dito sa Gilas,” added Ravena.
The former Ateneo standout was referring to the fact he was not even part of the original pool handpicked by Gilas coach Tim Cone. Then came an injury to Jayson Castro that prompted Cone to select a replacement guard – and there was Ravena, who was all too willing to heed the call.
“You just have to be ready. One lesson I learned is just be ready and really play your best,” he said.
“Ayaw, naman natin na may nai-injure, but, unfortunately, si kuya Jayson suffered an injury that allowed me to fill the void. I know it’s a big gap to fill in, but being with these guys made it a lot easier for me.”
Indeed, it has been a very rewarding experience for Ravena and not just because of the gold that came after he and similar PHL teams ascended to the top of the podium starting in the 2011 edition of the biennial meet.
Equally immeasurable and precious for him was the bond that developed between him and his teammates.
“We had a total of probably 10 practices, but it felt like we’ve been playing together for quite a while. It says a lot about how coach Tim really treats his players and his system. I learned a lot,” said Ravena. “All in all, this is probably the best for me.”