FIBA: Replacing the Gilas GOAT: Kiefer Ravena
Paul Lintag on Aug 15, 2019 10:18 AM
If you think about it, Jayson Castro's replacement as Gilas Pilipinas' no. 1 point guard was found long ago in Kiefer Ravena.
With Jayson Castro pretty much retired from international basketball for a second time, the Philippine national team has lost a key pillar, one that has been a huge part in the success of the Gilas program as a whole.
The Blur has been playing for flag and country since Gilas 2.0, serving as a secret weapon the first time before anchoring the offense as the national team’s undisputed alpha dog in his later stints.
With Castro running point, the Philippines has been to the Finals of the Asian Championships twice.
He’s been hailed as the region’s best point guard two times and Castro has led Gilas Pilipinas to consecutive FIBA World Cup appearances. With his international production and accolades, it’s hard to make the case against the Blur being the Gilas’ GOAT.
And as he begs off from the 2019 World Championships to focus on his family, Gilas is essentially losing its best local player.
The Philippines’ no. 1 point guard spot is now wide open and with the 2019 FIBA World Cup approaching fast, Gilas needs a new alpha for the World Championships and beyond.
ABS-CBN Sports talked to three possible candidates to take over Castro’s no. 1 point guard spot with Gilas now and in the near future.
[Related: FIBA: Replacing the Gilas GOAT: CJ Perez]
This is really happening, for real this time. This is goodbye to the Gilas GOAT. Who’s going to replace him now?
THE HEIR APPARENT
If you think about it, Jayson Castro's replacement as Gilas Pilipinas' no. 1 point guard was found long ago.
Said replacement even got the chance to share the court and play with the Blur on multiple occassions.
Kiefer Ravena made the Gilas Pilipinas team in 2017, serving as the chief backup for Castro as the national team started its quest for the 2019 FIBA World Cup by way of the Asian Qualifiers.
The Phenom suited up for the first two windows, starting slow but eventually finding his groove, averaging a solid 7.3 points and 3.3 assists in four games.
Ravena's best outing was during the home win against Japan, posting 13 points and five assists. Unfortunately, that would be his final game for Gilas for the meantime as he was suspended by FIBA for doping.
Looks like that would be his final game with Castro for Gilas, period. The experience thus becomes pricess for the Phenom as he looks to take over the Blur’s old spot.
“As an ultra-competitive guy, you want to compete for that spot. I’ve been with Jayson in the national team for the past two years, I’ve definitely learned a lot, learned the ropes from him, and I’m just so happy to be mentored by Jayson,” Ravena said.
“I’m just so happy for him that he’s finally having peace of mind with the decision that he made in not joining and really prioritizing his family,” he added.
LESSONS TO KEEP
The lessons Ravena picked up from Castro, he’s definitely taking note and will be applying them on the court as he nears official return to the national team.
It’s the wise thing to do, considering the Blur has been the top local for Gilas in terms of production and achievements. That’s why he’s the Gilas GOAT.
“Biggest kong natutunan from Jayson is yung pagiging selfless niya. We know that he can score the ball any time of the day, but he’s always put the team in front of him, more than anything else,” Kiefer said.
“He’s won that Best Point Guard in Asia a couple of times for a reason, not because he was the top scorer of the team, but he helped the team win, reach the Finals,” he added.
As he looks to make a grand return to Gilas Pilipinas, possibly as the heir apparent to Castro, Kiefer wants nothing more than to match the Blur’s performances.
Not in terms of individual glory, but piling up wins and getting medals for the national team. That plan starts in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
“Knowing Jayson that he would give any of those individual awards for any gold medal any time of the day, yun siguro yung pinaka-malaking natutunan ko from Jayson,” Ravena said.
“I’m here for he win, I’m here for that medal in the World Cup, and kahit ano siguro ang sabihin ng tao, we’re joining that to win the World Cup, not just for experience,” Kiefer added.
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