IS Kiefer Ravena good enough to be with Gilas Pilipinas?
Such debate raged on Twitter over the past two days after a broadcaster from a major network, raving about Ravena's game-winning performance against University of the East in the UAAP, tweeted that he feels the Ateneo star should be with Gilas in the Fiba World Cup in Spain.
A hashtag that Gilas fans felt 'disrespected' the current members of the national team and consequently stirred a furor that soon dragged coach Chot Reyes into the fray was later ironed out, but it took the focus away from the whole point of the brouhaha.
So is Kiefer good enough for Gilas?
Of course, none of these would have mattered if Ravena hasn't been nothing short of spectacular for Ateneo this season. The third-year player has twice reset his career high in scoring and leads the MVP race by a wide margin while leading Ateneo to a league-best 7-2 record.
Spin.ph sought out Ateneo coach Bo Perasol to get his thoughts on the issue. The second-year coach said he has no doubt that Ravena has the potential to be a Gilas player - in the future.
Perasol feels Ravena can match up with the players in his position in terms of skills set. He also believes Ravena's deep understanding of the game - his basketball IQ, as coaches like to point out - gives him an edge over the other players.
“In my subjective opinion, in terms of his physical ability and skill level, puwedeng makipagsabayan si Kiefer sa mga ka-position niya. Pag dating sa level ng pag-intindi niya sa laro, sigurado ako na lalamang pa siya sa iba,” Perasol said.
Perasol, however, also pointed out that what Ravena lacks is experience in the international game. His prized guard has won two Southeast Asian Games gold medals with Sinag Pilipinas, but that about make up his overseas resume.
“The only criterion na siguro kulang pa si Kiefer dahil hindi naman siya kasama, ay ang personal exposure niya sa highest level ng competition,” said Perasol.
Many-time national team coach Louie Alas agreed that Ravena is a potential Gilas standout, even going as far as compare Ravena to current Gilas toast Paul Lee.
“Parang Paul Lee na ‘yun. Ganun na rin siya sa kapwesto niya. Tamang tama ‘yan, pag-alis ng mga medyo senior, doon na siya,” said Alas.
But like Perasol, Alas said Ravena should first cut his teeth with the Gilas cadets before making the move up to the senior team. Ravena is not part of the Gilas cadets since he is still playing for the Blue Eagles in the UAAP.
“Capable naman ‘yung bata eh. Pero tingin ko kailangan muna siya sa cadet. Siguro after a while, anyway, kasama naman sa practice ‘yung cadet and Gilas," the current Alaska assistant coach said.
But Alas said it won't be long before a 'gifted' Ravena becomes good enough for the senior team.
"Eventually, siguro in a short span of time, lalaro na siya sa Gilas dahil talagang gifted ‘yung bata,” said Alas.
“Skills kasi, halos pare-pareho na ‘yan. Kaya lang, may experience ‘yung mga seniors. Siyempre kahit magaling (si Ravena), mahihiya pa ‘yan. Kailangan makasama niya muna sila. Pero as I’ve said, eventually, doon na rin siya papunta,” said Alas.