When the International Basketball Federation found that Kiefer Ravena had banned substances in his system back in February 26, 2018, he did not blame anyone.
Nope, he did not sue Blackstone Labs, the manufacturer of pre-workout formula Dust. Nope, he did not bury himself into isolation during his suspension. And yes, he took the bullet head-on.
Instead, the 25-year-old embraced being the face in the country’s anti-doping awareness program.
And the past 487 days made the 6-foot guard realize one thing: you don’t need any added push to be great at your profession.
“Siguro, the first thing that I appreciated nung nawala ako is to really take care of your body,” shared Ravena, who added that he is in the best shape of his life since 2012 – his sophomore year in Ateneo.
“Getting regular sleep, drinking lots of water, narinig niyo na yun like keeping hydrated, having good recovery… You wouldn’t need external supplements or drinks para lang maka-cope up sa kulang mong pagod nararamadaman,” he continued.
“That’s one thing I appreciated. If you could stay naturally, sleep, eight glasses of water every day, you do it.”
Though he has yet to figure in active competition for the past 16 months, Ravena managed to keep pace with the 12 other players inside the Meralco Gym during Gilas Pilipinas’ third practice in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Just as promised, he showed that he did not let go of himself during his suspension.
“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, who last played a competitive basketball game back in May 16, 2018.
“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 added.
“You have to appreciate life talaga and the sport even more because it was taken away from me.”
The entire ordeal has traumatized Ravena, however. Ever since the day he incurred a stiff punishment from FIBA, he has yet to drink any liquid outside of pure drinking water.
Yes – no softdrinks, no protein shakes, and no supplements.
“To be honest, simula nung na-suspend ako, hindi pa ako umiinom ng kahit anong liquid na may kulay. It was a pretty traumatizing event for me to be honest.”
Despite the harsh verdict, Ravena said that it was an experience that helped him grow for the better.
“But at the same time, you learn from experience. It was a very tough experience for me, being away from basketball for sixteen months. But I’m just happy to be on the court again.”