By NIKOLE JAVIER
Even without Jordan Clarkson, Kiefer Ravena is convinced Gilas Pilipinas has good chances in beating their rivals in the fifth window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup next week.
The Shiga Lakes captain arrived in the country last Oct. 31 with his brother and another B.League standout Thirdy Ravena and practiced with fellow Gilas members the next day.
“First day of practice namin ni Thirdy kahapon sa national team. And I think si Dwight (Ramos) and si Ray (Parks) are also on their way. So, team’s looking good,” said Kiefer.
However, the Gilas Pilipinas will be without its Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson.
Still, the older Ravena believes the absence of Clarkson will give positivity to the team instead of otherwise.
“I mean, [it is] an opportunity for everybody to step up. Mahirap punuin ‘yong numbers ni JC pag isang tao lang. So, kailangan talaga lahat ‘next man up’ type of mentality as the cliché goes. ‘Yon opportunity lang na binibigay sa harap namin na kailangan namin i-grab,” added Ravena.
In front of thousands of Filipino fans, Clarkson thrilled the crowd with his vast repertoire of shots.
With the current lineup released by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) last week, Ravena is still thankful that the “majority of the core players from the last window” would provide just as much lift in their two away games against Jordan on Nov. 10 in Amman and then Saudi Arabia on Nov. 13 in Jeddah.
“I guess with the core players that played from the last window. Malaking bagay na onti na lang ‘yong kailangan namin i-adjust in terms of knowing how to play with each other. ‘Yon naman ‘yong naging problema the last time sobrang bilis lang din talaga nung nangyari and walang time,” he said.
With Kai Sotto, who is playing in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) with the Adelaide 36ers, also rejoining the Gilas crew, Ravena said the 20-man lineup is “more than capable [of] functioning on its own.”