KIEFER RAVENA will make his official return to the Philippine national basketball team on Monday, when he joins Gilas Pilipinas practice at Meralco Gym in Pasig.
Ravena, who traces his roots to Iloilo, is making a highly anticipated comeback after serving an 18-month suspension, after he tested positive for banned substances by WADA.
Gilas coach Yeng Guiao, who is also Ravena’s coach at NLEX, confirmed on Thursday night that the “Phenom” will practice with the national team even before he returns to his mother club.
” ‘Yung Monday kasi, because we’re playing on a Sunday, ‘yung Monday hindi muna kami magpa-practice kasi galing kami ng Batangas ng gabi, so Tuesday na kami magpa-practice,” said Guiao, whose team will take on Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday.
“That’s the time we’re expecting Kiefer to practice with NLEX. But I expect him to practice with Gilas in the evening.”
Ravena will have served the full length of his suspension by the time the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup starts on August 30, so Guiao says he sees no problem with including the former Ateneo star in the pool.
“By that time he’s going to be eligible, maghahabol na lang siya sa conditioning niya,” said the coach.
Guiao said he does not expect Ravena to come in peak basketball shape, but is confident that the star guard is “taking care of himself.”
“He’s not in full basketball shape, but he’s in decent shape. Hindi naman siya nagpabaya ng katawan. Nagpunta ng US to train on his own,” he said.
Much will be expected from Ravena, especially if the national team stands to lose veteran guard Jayson Castro.
Castro has been contemplating not joining Gilas for the World Cup, and Guiao said Thursday that there is little chance that Castro will be included in the pool.
Gilas veteran Gabe Norwood said of Ravena’s impending return: “I’m excited to have him back here on the court with us, and really see how he steps into that role of leadership and really running the show.”
Ray Parks has lashed out to the media Friday over a quote given by Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao.
Thursday night in national team practice, Guiao revealed that Parks turned down an invite to join Gilas Pilipinas. The national team is preparing for the FIBA World Cup later this year.
“We have a few other names na gusto naming imbitahan. Actually, for today, we invited Ray Parks, but he declined,” Guiao said.
Pressed for details, coach Yeng said it was actually team liaison officer Yvette Reyes who was in contact with Parks Jr.
“My understanding is he declined to be part of the pool. Ang nangyari kasi is I asked ma’am Yvette to get in touch with him,” Guiao said.
“My understanding is may iba siyang priorities,” coach Yeng added.
On Friday, the Blackwater rookie then went on a mini Twitter rant, saying the articles published were “misleading.” Parks Jr. didn’t specify a single news outlet but the news were spread across many platforms Thursday night.
Parks said it is his first conference in the PBA and Blackwater as no import in the current conference, thus he preferred to help out his team.
His tweet reads: “Woke up this morning to a misleading article smh. For people to actually believe that i dont want to represent my country is crazy. Kaya nga nglaro sa Alab and went abroad carrying the ?? flag anywhere and everywhere i go. First off i didnt decline due to different priorities smh. Hiya oo pero priority hindi. First conference ko palang sa PBA pinayagan na ako ng Blackwater tapusin ABL stint ko kaya sobrang thankful ako. Tapos ngayon wala kaming import tapos mawawala ako nahihiya lang din ako sa BWE. Nahihiya din ako sa mga players na nglaro during the qualifiers and ngpakahirap to get our spot at the World Cup. Sino ba namang proud na pinoy na hindi mahihiya kasi each player who played are deserving of a spot. Rinerespeto ko sila at yung pinaghirapan nila.”
The last time Parks played for Gilas was three years ago under Tab Baldwin for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila. (ABS-CBN News)