TAIPEI - Kiefer Ravena need not look far when asked who he considers as the benchmark now that he's making the transition to point guard.
"Ayun ang benchmark o," Ravena said, pointing to the guy quietly eating his dinner in the next table.
Ravena, of course, was referring to Jimmy Alapag, the former PBA star and now Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach who, in his long years with the national team, defined the point guard position with his playmaking, impeccable shooting, and leadership.
But Ravena is nowhere near an Alapag-type of point guard as he embraces the role shift - first with Gilas in the 39th Jones Cup and the coming Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, and later once he makes the long-awaited jump to the PBA.
The six-foot guard need not be told that in the evolution of the point guard position, he must be more like a Jayson Castro or an Alex Cabagnot - high-scoring guards who at the same time can run a team.
Ravena also need not be reminded that he must play point guard once he makes the jump to the PBA, if he hopes to have the same success he enjoyed with the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the college ranks.
"Magandang stepping stone rin ito, na nakakalaban mo ang mga ganitong klaseng player," Ravena said during a break in a back-breaking schedule in the Jones Cup, where he and the rest of Gilas are in the middle of run of nine games over nine days.
Ravena isn't the fastest point guard in the amateur ranks - in fact, he isn't even the fastest in this team. That distinction belongs to Jio Jalalon.
"Nagtuturuan nga kami nina Mike (Tolomia) at Almond (Vosotros) pag practice kung sino magbabantay kay Jio sa practice," he said with laugh.
But what Ravena has is an almost natural ability to score and an impressive read of the game - something he has shown since he was a kid watching PBA games with his dad Bong, and continues to show as he quarterbacks this Gilas team with Jalalon.
"Iba ang basa n'ya sa laro," said Gilas assistant coach Jong Uichico of Ravena. "Marami namang magaling na point guard, pero iba 'yung feel n'ya for the game. That's something you can't teach."
Ravena acknowledges his knowledge of the game makes up for his 'limitations' as a point guard.
"That's a way to cope with my disadvantages. Maliit (ako), di ako ganoon kabilis na point guard. So since mas mabagal ako sa kanila, kailangan one step ahead ako sa kanila sa pasa na lang. Kasi di ko naman sila mahahabol," he said.
"At kung di ko sila mahabol, pwede ko rin bagalan ang laro, kung saan ako mas fit."
The point guard position is actually no longer new for Ravena, who played the spot in high school until he was moved to off-guard by former Ateneo coach Norman Black when he joined the Blue Eagles so he can play alongside senior guard Emman Monfort.
"Pero high school ako sa Ateneo, kay coach Jamike (Jarin), point guard ako," he said.
Although he hasn't officially declared for the PBA draft, Ravena said this early he has been watching - or in his own words scouting - games to have a better grasp of what to expect in the pro ranks. Take the last San Miguel-TNT finals for example.
"Pinapanood ko 'yan, nag-scout na rin. Sila (San Miguel) ang team to beat, kahit saang team ka mapunta," Ravena said.
"Sabi ko nga, kapag sa pick and roll, si Alex Cabagnot ang pinakamagaling. It also works na you have three other guys like Marcio, Arwind and June Mar around you but reading wise, he's one of the best in creating his own shots off the pick and roll."
Include Cabagnot among the benchmarks he has set for himself once he turns pro, alongside Alapag, TNT star Jayson Castro, Chris Ross, and former PBA star Ronnie Magsanoc who Ravena said he watched diligently during his time in the PBA.
"In terms of being a point guard, si coach Jimmy pa rin. At sa evolution ng laro, na scoring point guard, si Kuya Jayson, scoring point guard rin si Alex, pati si Chris Ross."