Kiefer Ravena will get to shoot for a sixth Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medal after all. And he’ll do it with teammates built to destroy the opposition in an event that comes closest to a sure gold for the Philippines in the biennial meet.
Ravena, conspicuously absent from the original 16-man pool, comes in as a replacement for spitfire guard Robert Bolick, according to national coach Chot Reyes.
“Robert … had to fly to the [United States] to be with his ailing father,” Reyes told the Inquirer shortly after confirming the composition of the national team out to win—and win big—in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Also in the team is six-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, underscoring the plan of Gilas Pilipinas to what gunner Matthew Wright had previously described as maintaining the country’s dominance in the region.
“We’re the team USA of the SEA Games … You can’t give [opponents] anything—any confidence,” Wright, who was also named in the final cut, had previously said.
“Even if they lose by 15 points, to them that’s like a moral victory, right? We’ve got to destroy these teams,” he added.
Apart from Ravena, Fajardo and Wright, also suiting up for the Philippines are Mo Tautuaa, who will be Gilas’ naturalized player, Japan-based pro Thirdy Ravena, PBA pros Roger Pogoy, Kib Montalbo and Troy Rosario, young national team reliables Isaac Go and Will Navarro, and teenager Francis Lopez, who already has had a cameo with the national team.
Another Japan-based pro and a cornerstone of the national program for next year’s basketball World Cup, Dwight Ramos, begged off from the SEA Games due to his commitments overseas, according to Reyes.
Ravena’s personal golden streak in the SEA Games began in Jakarta, Indonesia, back in 2011. He has been a fixture in the regional meet ever since.
The other notable cuts from the original talent pool were Poy Erram, Caelum Harris, and Japeth Aguilar whom Reyes said was still recovering from a leg problem he sustained during Ginebra’s recent title defense in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Philippines has been the undisputed king in SEA Games basketball, having won 18 gold medals. The Nationals have also won the last 13 crowns in the men’s event.
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