Task of filling in for Jayson Castro adding more pressure to Kiefer Ravena’s return
MANILA, Philippines—Kiefer Ravena has one hell of responsibility for Gilas Pilipinas as Yeng Guiao’s “logical choice” to replace longtime national team leader Jayson Castro.
If the pressure of amounting to the once best point guard in Asia isn’t enough, Ravena will be doing his job in as little time as possible.
If he makes the final cut for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Ravena would have to play catch up to his teammates in the next month and a half before the international tournament.
The 25-year-old point guard was only allowed to practice with the national team last June 24 following his 18-month Fiba ban for ingesting banned substances that started on May 22, 2018. His suspension ends on August 24.
“I admit that there is a huge amount of pressure becoming the replacement of Jayson,” said Ravena in Filipino Thursday at Meralco Gym. “I won’t be able to fulfill the hole Jayson left. It’s a process and even he took a couple of years to really settle down and be the mainstay and anchor of the program.”
“I have to step up every practice because at this point I’m still catching up to everyone, trying to get into playing shape, getting better chemistry with my teammates, but I’m just trying to do my best.”
Ravena is no stranger to international success, having won four gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games.
Castro, however, has two silver medals in the Fiba Asia Championship and was twice named the point guard in the All-Star selection of the tournament, making him the continent’s best point guard in 2013 and 2015.
“It’s not just me who will fill in the void, it will take a few other guys rather than me to fill out the gap that Jayson left,” said Ravena.
“Of course this is an honor, even if replacing Jayson isn’t the role that was given to me but just being chosen to be part of the national team is an honor in itself. Serving the country is never a privilege, it’s an obligation.”