GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin has practically crossed off Kiefer Ravena from the players that could be included in the 14-man lineup that will embark on a three-week European swing, a major part of the buildup for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Initially volunteering last year just as a warm body to fill in for injured players, Ravena slowly made a case for inclusion in the final roster as he emerged the only cadet that has consistently joined practice sessions.
But the amateur star didn’t even see action in a mere scrimmage – the national team’s first competitive action against an opponent this year, riding the bench along with naturalized player reserve Mo Tautuaa against Iran on Tuesday.
And national coach Tab Baldwin hinted the duo will remain as spectators in the second of their tune-up games against the Iranians on Wednesday night.
“I don’t know whether we’ll play them (Wednesday), but their role within the group has always been pretty explicit,” Baldwin said.
“I’d love to get them opportunities to play for no other reason but just to say thank you for the sacrifice they’ve made and everything they’ve done,” he added. “But they know what we’re here preparing for and they’re on board with the preparation plan. If we can get them out there, we will.”
[See Who's in, who's out]
Ravena is taking the decision in stride.
“Kami ni Mo, coming into that, alam na rin naman namin yung roles sa team,” the former Ateneo star admitted.
“Eventually, yung oras namin na magse-serve sa country, darating rin naman yun,” he added. “Hindi rin naman kami nagmamadali.”
After all, Ravena, the youngest in the pool at 22, has plenty of time to represent the country in the near future, especially since he's expected to head a new Gilas pool when the national team returns to the cadet format under the new qualifying format introduced by Fiba.
“Kahit anong mangyari, whether you make it to the Final 14, you make it to the Final 12, or you don't make it at all, dito ka lang pool, okay na kami doon,” he said, adding he and Tautuaa will still suit up against Iran at the Big Dome.
“We’re happy enough to help them, yung pinu-push lang namin yung buong team para maging positive at para maging ready. Ganun naman kasi talaga dapat," he concluded.