by Jonas Terrado
Kiefer Ravena had just converted a corner three during a shooting drill when a lanky guy a few feet away shouted a warm greeting.
“He’s back!,” exclaimed Raymond Almazan while waiting for his turn during Monday’s Gilas Pilipinas practice at the Meralco Gym in Ortigas.
Later on, Ravena kept fooling around with Roger Pogoy, playfully trying to land an elbow during a walkthrough of coach Yeng Guiao’s plays.
Former Gilas mainstay Marc Pingris soon arrived to watch the proceedings and spent a few minutes talking to Ravena.
Ravena has never been this happy since a part of his life was taken away temporarily when he was banned for 18 months by FIBA for testing positive for banned substances found in a pre-workout drink.
While the suspension won’t end until Aug. 24, FIBA has given Ravena a two-month period to participate in practice of Gilas and his PBA team NLEX.
“Parang bata na kinuhanan mo ng laruan tapos binalik mo din ulit yung matagal nang di nalalaro,” Ravena said.
The 26-year-old admitted that he has spent the past few days waking up in the wee hours of the morning due to his excitement of finally getting to train without any limitations.
“Sobrang anxious ko nga nung palapit na ng palapit sa araw na ito (“I was too anxious when this day was fast approaching.”)
His participation is the first step toward Ravena’s on-court return which could come sooner than expected with a potential Gilas stint in the FIBA World Cup.
Guiao indicated that Ravena is a shoo-in for the Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 competition, though he would prefer to impress his coach than have a sense of comfort.