GILAS Pilipinas coach Tim Cone believes Kiefer Ravena can offer to the national team what Jayson Castro is also capable of doing had he been healthy for the Southeast Asian Games.
Ravena has been included in the 15-man pool of Gilas in place of Castro, who suffered an injury in his leg that will keep him out of the SEA Games.
Cone said the coaching staff decided to include Ravena as he brings a lot to the team, particularly his leadership.
“It’s an extra body. It’s an extra talent,” Cone said. “We are going to miss Jayson terribly but Kiefer has some of that Jayson ability in him. We lose the experience of Jayson but Kiefer has that rare maturity that kinda lands himself to be able to play with a bunch of vets and still be a leader and still do the things he needs to do. He is kinda rare in that way.”
Cone said they also considered other players, which he declined to reveal their identities. In the end, they decided on giving the spot to Ravena.
“We considered some other players but it really just kept coming to Kiefer. We asked him and he said yes so we are happy to have him,” said Cone.
Cone said he would have even fielded Ravena in the tune-up game against San Miguel Alab Pilipinas on Monday night if not for a back injury that he is recovering from.
Cone though expressed confidence that Ravena can adapt immediately to the system of the SEA Games team.
“Kiefer has a back issue after a bad fall in practice. He couldn’t play. I would have played him if he could play because I think he’s just natural. He could have picked up things and play the natural type game that we want to see. Yeng Guiao’s offense is very unique but it’s got some of the elements that we do that we are doing. I don’t think it’s going to be a stretch for Kiefer to learn our offense,” said Cone.
Ravena will now be eyeing for his fifth SEA Games gold with his inclusion in the pool, but Cone said they are still far from naming the final 12 for the competition.
“Whether he makes it to the final 12, that’s another question. We still have to remove three players on the pool,” said Cone.