The smile on Kiefer Ravena’s face was priceless when he entered the Meralco Gym, Monday afternoon.
Despite a 6:00 pm call time, Ravena arrived at the venue at least an hour and 30 minutes earlier. And he felt right back home.
“Parang bata akong nakunan ng laruan tapos binalik mo lang din nung matagal na niyang hindi nalalaro. That’s how exactly what I feel.
“Sobrang anxious ko nga nung papalapit na yung araw na ito. Paaga ng paaga yung gising ko,” he confessed.
The last 487 days have been tough for Ravena.
A self-confessed basketball aficionado, he was devoid of any basketball activity. This includes playing pick-up games, being at a basketball event, or even picking up a simple basketball.
Yes, he could not even watch his brother Thirdy’s crowning moment a year ago; he could not share his thoughts on the NLEX Road Warriors’ struggles; and he could not even dribble the ball.
While the clock wound down, Ravena became restless and excited. And apparently, his body clock was counting down the days for him as well.
“Nagigising ako two o’clock in the morning, three o’ clock. Tapos pagtingin ko, wala pa palang araw. Ang then, kanina, sobrang haba na ng araw ko,” he continued.
“Halos four-thirty ng umaga gising na ako, knowing that I will be able to practice twelve hours from the time I woke up.”
A night before he could finally practice, Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao made a bold declaration. He said that Ravena’s spot for the World Cup is “a done deal.”
But after Gilas’ first practice, the amiable mentor told Ravena that nothing is set in stone yet.
“Well, coming from him, it’s a huge confidence booster, but siguro kagabi niya sinabi yun. But today, sabi niya everyone is still fighting for a spot,” disclosed the 25-year-old.
“So, I guess, I’ll just hold to what sinabi niya ngayon lang.”
Despite the pressure of trying to fill Castro’s shoes, Ravena is simply relishing this moment, as he finally returns to doing what he loves.
Though day 487 out of 487 is complete, June 24 is just day one of his new journey.
“I told you that I’m going to surprise a lot of people with how I look and how I play. I’ll continue to prove that it won’t stop from here. I told you that this is just the start, to continue this story of my journey all throughout the sixteen months that I’ve been suspended,” said Ravena.
“I would like to thank everyone who was part of this journey. I’ve talked to most of you guys, it’s something that I would remember all throughout my life, throughout my career. It’s something that made me a stronger, wiser, and better person,” he continued.
“You have to appreciate life talaga and the sport even more because it was taken away from me. Very thankful that I’m back. Sabi nga ni coach, I have to be healthy to continue to do this and serve the national team,” he expressed.
“Sana mangyari yung plano namin.”