KIEFER Ravena felt a lot better with the way he played when he suited up for NLEX in a tune-up game against Phoenix Pulse just before leaving with the Gilas Pilipinas team for the FIBA World Cup.
Ravena scored 14 points in his first tune-up match with the Road Warriors at the end of his 18-month suspension by FIBA. NLEX won the game, 114-77.
Ravena’s first game back was actually with Gilas Pilipinas during its second friendly against the Adelaide 36ers, which the national team lost, 85-75, with the former Ateneo standout scoring 11 points.
But Ravena admitted he played much better against the Fuel Masters mainly because he is more familiar with NLEX.
“Felt a lot better compared to the first game that I played,” he said. “For me, got my feet wet during the Australia game and I think I was more comfortable na (NLEX tune-up game). Siyempre, mas matagal pa ako nagpapractice sa NLEX. ‘Yung mga once, twice a week practice kami dito (Gilas), everyday na ako sa NLEX nun.”
“Mas nakakasabay ko na sila. Alam mo sistema. Nakakatuwa din. Nakakamiss din maglaro. In the long run, PBA talaga lalaruan mo. But then again, right now, my focus is the World Cup. It was fun to be out there with the guys.”
While he played down the win against Phoenix Pulse, which he said is still not playing to its true potential, Ravena nonetheless said the victory is a testament to NLEX’s lengthy preparation for the Governors’ Cup, which began shortly after the team was eliminated in the Commissioner’s Cup.
“It was very uncharacteristic of Phoenix. We know how the system runs with coach Louie, how well-coached they are. But with Matt (Wright) not their (due to an injury), it gave us an advantage. Week and a half after the conference kami nag-train, kundisyon kami, medyo familiar na ‘yung laro. Lumabas naman. Maganda tinakbo ng opensa naming mga player,” Ravena said.
The tune-up match came on the eve of Gilas Pilipinas' departure for China for the FIBA World Cup where Ravena and NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao are part of the team.
Ravena is hoping the Road Warriors can maintain their form once they returned from the World Cup.
“Hopefully, everyone can stay healthy all throughout the time na we will be away together with coach Yeng,” Ravena said.