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Kiefer: Jordan Clarkson’s shoes are too big to fill

With National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson out, it will be an opportunity for every member of the Gilas Pilipinas to step up in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Kiefer Ravena will be one among the players tasked to rise to the challenge.

“This is an opportunity for everybody to step up. Jordan Clarkson’s numbers are too big to fill. We need to have that next-man-up mentality. This is a good opportunity for all of us to grab,” Ravena said.

Ravena arrived with his brother, Thirdy, on 1 November for another tour of duty for the national team that will play a pair of road games in the coming window next week.

The Philippines faces Jordan in Amman on 10 November then takes on Saudi Arabia in Dammam on 13 November.

But the Filipinos will go there without Clarkson, who played for Gilas during the fourth window along with 7-foot-3 center Kai Sotto.

Clarkson is out and Gilas management are still making accommodations on Sotto, who is still playing for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League in Australia, on the possibility of playing in the fifth window.

Sotto and naturalized player Ange Kouame had been included in the 20-man pool.

Ravena believes that Clarkson’s production will be filled up collectively by players who will be included in the final 12.

The Ravena brothers, Dwight Ramos and Ray Parks are coming off a short break playing in the Japan B. League, which means they’re all in game shape and ready to suit up for the national squad.

“We’re all in game shape. We don’t have to catch up in terms of conditioning,” he said.

“That’s the most important thing. We’re playing two away games, so there’ll be a lot of traveling, a lot of time walking or playing so it’s going to be a factor. But we’re ready to play.”

The inclusion of the B. League stars, however, doesn’t mean that they’re going to take control of the squad that also has star players from the Philippine Basketball Association.

Aside from the four players — and Sotto, if he’ll be able to make it on time — the PBA stars included in the pool are reigning PBA Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Calvin Oftana, Roger Pogoy and Poy Erram of TNT Tropang Giga, CJ Perez of San Miguel Beer, and Arvin Tolentino and William Navarro of NorthPort.

Six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Chris Newsome of Meralco were likewise included in the pool but were ruled out due to separate injuries.

Fajardo underwent surgery on his throat while Newsome suffered a new calf injury he suffered during Gilas’ practice last Monday.

Also included in the pool are collegiate stars Kouame of Ateneo de Manila University, Carl Tamayo of University of the Philippines and Kevin Quiambao of De La Salle University as well as former high school standout Francis Lopez.

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