ONE by one, the pieces for the Philippine men’s basketball team to the Southeast Asian Games are falling into place.
Ateneo stars Kiefer Ravena and Chris Newsome are among the latest players given invitations to play for the squad that is out to defend its title during in the biennial meet in Myanmar from December 11-22.
Ravena confirmed to Spin.ph that he has already been invited for a second SEA Games stint.
“Tinawagan ako at sinabi nga na interested daw sila sa akin,” said Ravena of the call he received on Saturday afternoon from Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio.
A veteran of the 2011 edition of the regional meet held in Indonesia, Ravena is optimistic he and Newsome will be able to secure a clearance from Ateneo to play for flag and country since the SEA Games will not be in conflict with any collegiate tournaments in December.
“Wala naman sigurong magiging problema. Kung sa studies ko lang, kaya ko namang maghabol,” assured the Communications Technology Management student.
Ravena and Newsome are set to beef up the Sinag Pilipinas team, joining Gilas cadets Kevin Louie Alas, Ronald Pascual, Garvo Lanete, Jake Pascual, Matt Ganuelas, and RR Garcia.
The two Ateneo stars are also among seven collegiate players being eyed by national coach Chot Reyes to beef up the cadet pool.
[For full story, see Ravena, Romeo, Parks Almazan lead new batch of Gilas invitees]
Gilas Pilipinas naturalized center Marcus Douthit is also being considered for a spot in the Philippine side, leaving coach Jong Uichico with just three vacancies in his players roster.
Uichico, meanwhile, told Spin.ph he will still evaluate the list of 24 players given to him by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), ahead of the team’s first day of practice on October 14.
Asked about the suggestion of the Philippines Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee to send an all-pro team to the SEA Games, Ravena gave his two cents worth on the matter.
“Kung titignan natin `yung result nung team namin last time na nag-gold sa Indonesia, siguro naman malaki pa rin ang tsansa na mag-gold ulit tayo,” said the cat-quick UAAP sentinel.
“Pero syempre, iba pa rin pag PBA, kung yun ang gugustuhin nila (POC). Kami naman, we will make sure na ibibigay namin ang lahat sa bawat game, madepensahan lang` yung turf natin,” added the eldest playing son of former PBA player Bong Ravena.
“Time will come, kami rin naman nandudun (PBA),” he added.
Since joining the SEA Games in 1977, the Philippines has won 15 of the 16 men’s basketball golds put at stake, the lone exception coming in 1989 when Malaysia toppled the Filipinos on home turf.
“Lahat naman ng Asean countries nag-ca-catch up sa basketball, pero syempre hindi naman tayo lulusob dun nang hindi prepared,” Ravena added.