By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

FOR the second straight time in the ongoing FIBA Asian World Cup Qualifiers, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) rookie Kiefer Ravena was part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that saw action in the competition, something he said he is basking in not only for the chance to represent flag and country but to play alongside as well with some of the best players in the land.

Including Gilas’ last two games in Australia on Feb. 22 and in Manila three days later, Mr. Ravena, a freshman for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA, has suited for the first two windows of the World Cup Qualifiers, helping the team to a 3-1 record and a spot in the next round of the marquee basketball tournament.

While admitting he is still working his way to be of best service to the team, Mr. Ravena said he is getting used to playing on the “big stage” with the help of his more seasoned teammates and coaches.

“Well in terms of preparing for the big stage it helps that I get to train with practically the best players here in our country,” said the former King Ateneo Eagle, who is averaging 7.3 points, two rebounds and 3.3 assists in the qualifiers while playing primarily the point guard position.

“I credit as well the trust of the coaching staff which is big boost to my confidence as I figure things out. Preparation for me is trusting the system and working hard. And, of course, trusting yourself,” added Mr. Ravena.

In their last game against Japan, Mr. Ravena provided a much-needed jolt after Gilas had a slow start and was challenged to the end by the visitors before hacking out an 89-84 victory.

The Gilas guard finished with 13 points and five assists apart from providing a lot of energy to the team on both ends of the court.

Moving forward, Mr. Ravena said he will continue striving hard and remain ready if and when the national team calls him back.

Next for Mr. Ravena and Gilas is the third window of the qualifiers happening in June and July where they hope to continue winning and build a solid momentum heading into the next round of the tournament which will culminate in the FIBA World Cup in China in 2019.

Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas saw its world ranking improve a notch after the second window of the FIBA Asian World Cup Qualifiers.

Ranked 31st in the previous FIBA release, Gilas moved to 30th place in the list that came out last week.

Compiling 254.8 points to date, the Philippines is the fourth-best team in Asia behind Australia (10th) at 459.9 points, Iran (24th) at 287.8 and China (28th) at 263.4.

The United States remains as the number one-ranked nation followed by Spain, France, Serbia and Argentina in the top five.

Rounding out the top 10 are Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Australia.