It was the summer of 2018 when the news came. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) had dropped a hammer of an 18-month suspension on Kiefer Ravena. The superstar rookie from Ateneo de Manila had tested for three banned substances in a February drug test.
It was unintentional
The investigation yielded that the ingestion of banned substances was unintentional. According to Camille Naredo, it was due to Ravena’s consumption of “a pre-workout drink called “DUST,” which Ravena took ahead of their game against Japan.”
“It was not his usual pre-workout drink of choice, but Ravena had ran out of the drink that he typically uses. He was recommended to buy “DUST,” not knowing that it contained banned substances,” wrote the ABS-CBN reporter.
Ravena issued a statement regretting consumption of the said pre-workout drink “without analyzing or taking extra time to research its ingredients.”
“DUST” is legal in the country, and it’s easily available over the counter. FIBA acknowledged these circumstances.
Nevertheless, sanctions had to be given, and both Ravena and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) accepted them fully.
“I am a responsible man, and I will face the consequences, no matter how painful and life changing,” said Ravena.
Unfinished business, for the country
Fast forward to present day. As August approaches, with the suspension coming to an end, the NLEX Road Warriors and its fans aren’t the only ones excited to see Ravena back on the hardcourt.
The national team, Gilas Pilipinas, is in need of as much help as it can get. It’s gearing up for its next campaign – the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, which will be held in China this August. For the rest of us, that’s another shot at national pride and international acclaim. But for Ravena, it’s unfinished business.
Ravena will have some big shoes to fill. He’ll be taking the starting slot of none other than Jayson Castro, who led the squad in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. And undoubtedly one of the best point guards this part of the world has ever seen.
In an interview with Mico Halili, Ravena noted the importance of a team effort to make up for Castro’s loss.
“Hopefully all the other players can just chip in. Accept our roles, na si Jayson wala na. Para pagdating ng World Cup, ready na lahat.”
“It’s amazing to join this pool of very talented pros,” he added. “We’re all together in this mission for our country.”
A life lesson
The 18-month suspension has been hard on Ravena. Apart from not being able to compete, he isn’t even allowed to watch games live at the venues. It got so bad for him that he couldn’t even watch them on television.
“When there was a big basketball game on TV, I couldn’t watch because I would get jealous. At first, the transition was tough. I couldn’t play the game I love and grew up with,” he said.
But what didn’t break him only made him stronger. On the road to his return, the former Blue Eagle reveals that he’s grown in maturity.
“I had to take a step back. Put the little things into perspective. Appreciate the talent that was given to me. By just learning that, it allowed me to go even harder,” Ravena said.
In the same interview with Halili, Franz Pumaren said of Ravena:
“He’s fresh. He’s dying to prove something to everybody. That’s he’s still capable of being one of the top point guards in the Philippines.”
Is he, still? We can’t wait.
Gilas Pilipinas will kick off its FIBA World Cup campaign versus Italy on August 31. Other teams in the group include Angola and Serbia.