THE countdown to Kiefer Ravena’s long-awaited basketball comeback is down to just 36 hours.
There is one clarification he wanted to clear things out first regarding his scheduled August 24 return. Is it Philippine or European time?
“August 24 dito puwede na yata, pero natatakot din ako kasi baka August 23 pa sa ibang bansa nun,” he said of the time difference between the country and Europe. “Anong oras ba sa Switzerland, di ba kasi andun yung FIBA?”
Taking no chances, Ravena will have his official return on August 25 when Gilas Pilipinas plays the visiting Adelaide 36ers in the second of their two friendlies at the Meralco gym as it readies for the coming battle in the FIBA World Cup in China.
By that time, the 18-month suspension meted on him by FIBA would be officially over, allowing ‘The Phenom’ to resume a promising career stalled by a failed drug test.
Thankful his nightmare is over, Ravena couldn’t have thought of a better way to get back on the court.
“Magpapa-misa ako sa 24. Opening ng career ko ulit,” said the sophomore guard of NLEX.
“It’s been a while, pero sulit naman yung paghihintay kasi nahanda ko rin yung sarili ko na kaya kong makipag-compete ulit sa ganitong klase ng level,” added Ravena. “Yung 18 months na nawala ako, feeling ko naman hindi nasayang kasi nakakasabay pa naman ako kahit paano.”
The 25-year-old Ravena already became eligible to practice with Gilas Pilipinas last June 24, but couldn’t play in tune-up games or even in pocket tournaments until his one-and-a-half-year ban is officially lifted two months after.
Despite the limitations, Ravena still traveled with the national team to Spain during its 10-day training camp that saw the Filipinos play African countries Congo and Ivory Coast in back-to-back tune-up matches and participated in a mini pocket tournament that featured world No. 2 Spain.
Ravena was reduced to a cheerleader and even as a utility personnel for the undermanned Gilas team in more than a week of stay in the cities of Madrid, Guadalajara, and Malaga.
“Despite the limit to the things that I can do, isinama pa rin nila ako, they still trusted me,” said Ravena of the faith his teammates and the coaching staff had on him along the way.
Other than hearing mass, Ravena has no other special things to do in heralding his return.
In his own words, he want to keep things ‘low key.’
“Ayoko rin kasing itaas yung expectations ng tao,” said the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 PBA draft.
Even Ravena himself doesn’t know what to expect from himself when he finally gets his first official basketball game in a long while.
“Kahit ako hindi ko rin alam kung ano yung ie-expect ko sa sarili ko. Siguro yung gigil na nasa loob ko after 18 months, hindi ko rin alam kung ano ang kalalabasan nito,” he said. “So we have to find a balance between intensity and yung pagiging kalma pa rin.”
Either way, just seeing Ravena back on the court and doing what he does best is more than enough.