Jayson Castro struggled to start the game against Taipei. No problem because Kiefer Ravena is his main backup.
MANILA, Philippines — For the second straight game, Jayson Castro was the man for Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth quarter, resulting in another win for the Philippines in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
However, despite his late-game brilliance, the Blur sure was ineffective in the first half Monday against Chinese Taipei at the Araneta Coliseum here.
Castro only had five points at the break vs. the visiting Taiwanese. He was also a team-worst minus 14 in nine minutes of play.
Fortunately for him, Kiefer Ravena, who now looks like the true heir apparent at point guard for Gilas Pilipinas, proved his worth in only his second official FIBA game as a member of the senior team.
With the Philippine falling to an early 14-point deficit, Ravena came in and sparked a Gilas rally. By halftime, the national team was finally ahead, 44-42.
Kief was sensational in the 11-minute stretch, dropping seven points and three assists. He was also plus 14 on the floor, basically making up for all the points Castro lost to start the game.
The Phenom ended with a solid nine-point, five-assist effort in 15 and a half minutes as a reserve.
No one in the national team was surprised.
“Kiefer, hinog na hinog na yun. He’s ripe. I’m not surprised at all,” head coach Chot Reyes said of the no. 2 overall pick of the 2017 PBA Draft.
“He’s part of that second group [Kiefer], that energy group coming off the bench that really gave us a lift and got us back in the ball game,” he added.
Kiefer, who has been a revelation for the national team since earlier this year with his maturity on the international stage, says that he’s just doing his role with Gilas.
“Well I just tried to contribute in whatever way I can, whether playing defense with the point guard just to make sure when Kuya Jayson rests, di dumidikit kalaban or humahabol kami,” he said.
“Were just about giving energy, kami nina Calvin, nina Pogoy. Yun naman yung role namin sa team,” Kiefer added.
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