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    'Kuya' Kiefer takes Gilas guards Abarrientos, Belangel under his wing

    Jul 4, 2022
    Kiefer Ravena, Carl Tamayo, Dwight Ramos
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    SUDDENLY a senior player in a youthful Gilas Pilipinas team, Kiefer Ravena admitted that playing with younger peers only energized him.

    "Ang sarap kasama. Nagiging bata ako," he said with a chuckle.

    "Nakakatawa kasi every time nagfi-fill up kami ng form, nakikita ko ang mga teammates ko na they were born 2000, 1999, 1998, tapos may sumisingit na 1993 doon. So nakakatawa kasi kasama pa din ako sa process ng pagiging better as a player, better individual. So I'm willing to learn from these young men."

    [See Gilas runs away with win over India]

    At 28, Ravena has embraced the role of the kuya for this Philippine national team.

    He has worn these threads for the better part of his career, from the youth team to the seniors squad where he won a record five Southeast Asian Games gold medals, all the way to a stint in the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.

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    The Japan-based guard led from the front not just off the court but also on it, as seen in Gilas' 79-63 win over India in the 2023 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers on Sunday where he finished with 12 points, four dimes, two rebounds, and two steals.

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      Ravena sees a lot of room to grow for these players in the international stage. And he's happy to help in that process.

      "Sila Carl [Tamayo], obviously Dwight [Ramos] and RJ [Abarrientos] and SJ [Belangel]. The guards, I kinda took it upon myself to take them under my wing especially [since] both of them are playing overseas," he said.

      "I'm talking to them everytime na may opportunity na maguusap kami through breakfast, dinner or lunch whatever on and off the court."

      For now, Ravena is just relishing the sweet taste of victory after a 46-point mauling the Philippines got against New Zealand three days back, using this as a springboard for the 2022 Fiba Asia Cup in Indonesia taking place in less than two weeks' time.

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      "It feels good getting back on track," he said. "Obviously we played two tune-up games against Korea, and I think we overachieved during those two games, and we got overwhelmed.

      "We got a big, big reality check against New Zealand. It kept our feet on the ground, it kept us humble, and at the same time, we learned from our mistakes and where we want to be, at what level in the future. We kinda showed it here, obviously against India and hopefully, this is a sign for a lot of improvement for the team and for the program."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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