By Jonas Terrado
Kiefer Ravena on Thursday clarified that Gilas Pilipinas is more focused on giving its best effort than aiming for a blowout win over Indonesia in Sunday’s 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers match in Jakarta.
The Gilas captain was reacting to comments made by fellow pool member Marc Pingris, who bared that he and Ravena told the team to come away in the Indonesian capital with a winning margin of about 30 to 40 points.
While that may give fuel to an Indonesian side that opened its campaign in the Qualifiers with a 109-76 loss at home to South Korea, Ravena said the objective was mainly to set the bar high.
“It’s just a challenge that we put up to ourselves,” Ravena said on the eve of the team’s departure for Jakarta. “We all know it’s a game. Whether you win by one point or two points it’s the same, we have one win as a team.
“But kami ang pinakaimportante siguro for us is to play hard, play the best that we can. If we play hard, maybe can beat them by 30 or 40 points. It’s not gonna be easy, (but) it’s not gonna be impossible as well,” he added.
Recent history suggests that Gilas is favored to hand Indonesia another one-sided beating.
Gilas, with an all-PBA side, defeated Indonesia 97-64 to win the 2017 SEABA Championship at the Big Dome. Later that year, a group of young pros and amateurs which included Ravena prevailed 94-55 to claim gold in the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games.
In December, the Tim Cone-mentored Gilas rolled past Indonesia of coach Rajko Toroman 97-70 in the semifinals of the 30th SEA Games at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“People think we may be overconfident of having that type of goal, but you want to set the standards high, especially for the young ones,” Ravena said. “Sinasabi palagi nila coach Tab (Baldwin) and coach Mark (Dickel) na we want to build a culture of playing hard, and giving it our best may start by winning that way.”
A win will give Gilas a positive outlook in the Qualifiers which will see the Philippines also facing Thailand and South Korea in future windows.
“Karamihan sa amin mga first time pa lang maglalaro so coming up with a big, big victory over Indonesia in a dominating fashion, hopefully will be a good start for the program. It’s going to be something na masustain pa yung mga gusto pang gawin na mga programa sa Gilas.
“So hopefully, makapaglaro kami ng maayos talaga dahil gusto namin manalo ng ganoong way,” Ravena added.