Long buildup, Gilas cadets chemistry bolster Ravena confidence ahead of SEA Games bow
Kiefer Ravena will be gunning for his third, and likely last, gold medal in the SEA Games before turning pro. Reuben Terrado

SINGAPORE — A well-prepared Philippine men’s basketball team begins its campaign in the 28th Southeast Asian Games against Indonesia on Wednesday at the OCBC Arena here.

The Gilas cadets squad will be facing an Indonesian team backed up by players with experience in professional leagues like the Asean Basketball League (ABL), but skipper Kiefer Ravena is unfazed.

Ravena, gunning for his third and likely final SEA Games gold medal before turning pro, said the long preparation and the chemistry the team has built over that span have made the Gilas cadets a formidable force.

“My first SEA Games (Jakarta, 2011), si Chris Tiu, Cliff Hodge, and Chris Ellis. Nung second year, sila Kevin (Alas), Garvo (Lanete), Jake Pascual. Naging madali ‘yung chemistry para sa amin lalo na outside the court. We just have to translate it sa game,” said the 21-year-old after Monday’s team practice.

Ravena said the team's three-and-a-half-month preparation was the longest he has experienced in three SEA Games appearances.

“You also have to consider that the past two SEA Games, we didn’t really have much time. This was the first SEA Games that was in June. The past two SEA Games were immediately after the UAAP. You can’t pick players from their mother teams and just practice.

“Definitely, we are well-prepared,” said Ravena.

Still, Ravena vowed not to take the games lightly despite the Philippines’ standing in SEA Games basketball.

“It takes just a bad game for us and a perfect game for our opponents. Hindi kami puwedeng mag-slack off,” said Ravena.

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