Gilas beats Alab in 1st tuneup, adds Kiefer Ravena to SEA Games pool

Tim Cone Gilas Pilipinas

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Gilas Pilipinas kicked off its series of friendlies on a winning note Monday night, but national team coach Tim Cone says the team still has a long way to go ahead of the Southeast Asian Games which will be held here.

“Our challenge at this point is to make sure we’re not an all-star team,” he said shortly after the Nationals’ 98-95 victory over Alab Pilipinas at Meralco Gym in Ortigas.

“We got to bring more than just being a bunch of good players playing together,” added Cone, who drew a team-best 21 points from June Mar Fajardo, and 15 points from Roger Pogoy.

“Whether we could do that in the short window that we have is our biggest challenge,” said the decorated tactician. 

Down to 14 men after Jayson Castro went down with an injury, the Gilas pool welcomed a new member in Kiefer Ravena.

“This [was] my moment to absorb everything that I can in terms of learning from coach Tim,” said Ravena.  “You see, the team, they’re already complete. I just have to wait first as I don’t want to [cause any disruption].”

Gabby Cui, Gilas’ team manager, said the SBP has already included Ravena’s name on the pool.

Cone, though, stressed that Ravena making the SEA Games roster is a different story altogether.

“Whether he makes the final 12 is another question,” he said. “We still have to remove three players from the pool to go forward. But in the meantime, it’s an extra body. It’s another talent.”

The Nationals are set to figure in a couple more closed-door scrimmages while also adding Thursday night practice sessions beginning this week.

Gilas takes on against Alab for the second time on Nov. 11 before clashing with an import-powered Taiwanese club on Nov. 18.

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