Kiefer Ravena had already become the most decorated basketball player in the Southeast Asian Games when he collected his fourth gold medal in the 2017 meet in Kuala Lumpur.
But the second-generation cager didn’t stop there. Come Tuesday night, he increased his collection to five.
Ravena is now a five-time gold medalist after he and Gilas Pilipinas obliterated Thailand by 34 points, 115-81, to help the Philippines extend its streak as kings of the region for the 13th time.
For the 26-year-old, this one means more than the medals he has collected in the past four editions of the regional meet, since he won it on home soil and in front of his compatriots.
“It’s a bit more special siyempre dahil unang-una, dito nangyari sa Manila,” said Ravena, who had 10 markers in the win.
The feat is even more memorable for Ravena since he hadn’t been part of the original pool for this particular tilt. But with Jayson Castro suffering an injury, that paved the way for his inclusion in Tim Cone’s options.
“Pangalawa, what makes it more special is nung una, I wasn’t even part of the pool na makakalaro dito sa Gilas. You just have to be ready. One lesson I learned is just be ready and really play your best,” shared the Ateneo product.
“Ayaw naman natin na may nai-injure, but unfortunately, si kuya Jayson suffered an injury that allowed me to fill the void. I know it’s a big gap to fill in, but being with these guys made it a lot easier for me.”
Besides the medal, Ravena said that the whole experience of this year’s Games has been great, since he was able to learn from Cone and some of the best players in the PBA.
“We had a total of probably ten practices, but it felt like we’ve been playing together for quite a while. It says a lot about how coach Tim really treats his players and his system. I learned a lot,” said Ravena, who won his first SEA Games gold in 2011 in Jakarta.
“All in all, this is probably the best for me.”
The next SEA Games will be in 2021 and will take place in Vietnam. Now, will he try to make it six?
“Actually twenty-eight pa lang ako noon. Thirty-five na ‘yung roommate ko (LA Tenorio). Baka pwede pa. Baka next time makasabay ko pa si Thirdy. We’ll see.”