SINGAPORE – They are considered as the ‘sixth man’ of the Gilas cadets.
Kiefer Ravena acknowledged how it is a big boost for the Philippine men’s basketball team playing before a jampacked crowd whenever it sees action in the 28th Southeast Asian Games here.
The skipper of the national team admitted the huge Filipino community which always watches the team’s games in the biennial meet, has definitely given them a ‘homecourt advantage’ at the OCBC Arena in this so-called ‘Lion City.’
As their way of repaying the fans’ support, Ravena and the rest of the team always accommodate photo requests from the Filipino audience just outside the playing venue.
“’Yun lang ‘yung maibabalik namin sa kanila,” said Ravena shortly after Gilas’ 126-21 rout of Timor Leste Friday night. “Bigyan namin sila ng magandang laro, pa-picture. It’s a big advantage for us.”
As the stakes get higher, Ravena expects the Filipino crowd to troop even more and support the team in its bid to retain the basketball gold.
The Philippines takes on Thailand in the semifinal match on Sunday with the winner facing either Indonesia or host Singapore on Monday.
“Kahit Singaporean ‘yan, hindi mananalo Singaporeans sa Pinoy,” said Ravena, referring to the Pinoy crowd. “Nakita na namin ‘yan nung Seaba. May mga hindi pa nakapasok na Pinoy. Kumpiyansa kami na hindi kami pababayaan.”