Injury bug continues to hound Gilas Pilipinas as star playmaker Kiefer Ravena is suffering from an impacted wisdom tooth, forcing him to sit out in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Ravena, one of the four players tapped by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas from the Japan B. League, underwent a tooth operation, forcing him to miss their crucial road games against Jordan on Friday and Saudi Arabia on Monday.
Gilas Pilipinas had a morning workout led by head coach Chot Reyes before leaving for Amman late Monday. Also gracing the team’s final training were SBP president Al Panlilio and Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Willie Marcial.
With Ravena out, Gilas will have no choice but to play without a pure point guard.
His absence, however, will put the squad’s versatility into a major test as swingmen Dwight Ramos and Ray Parks as well as reigning PBA Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel are tipped to carry the playmaking chore.
“Coach Chot already talked to me and he told me that I’m gonna have to play some point guard, so as Coach Tim (Cone),” Ramos told Daily Tribune in an interview.
“Sometimes, I also have to play the No. 4 spot.”
Ramos said he is ready for the challenge.
“Honestly, that’s the job of the player,” said the 24-year-old Ramos, who plays for the Levangga Hokkaido in Japan.
“You do what the coaches say. Anything I can do to help the team, I’ll do it. That’s the way I play since I was young.”
Parks shared the same excitement of quarterbacking the star-studded Gilas squad.
“I love it. To be honest, I’ve been playing point guard before. When I came back to the Philippines, I had to play more of a wing here, because I am a tall guard,” Parks, who played college ball for National University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, said.
“Being able to play and fill that role and do whatever it takes to help my team win, it feels great.”
Aside from Ramos, Parks and Thompson, also part of the 14-man pool are Thirdy Ravena, Ginebra standouts Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo, San Miguel Beer star CJ Perez, TNT Tropang Giga stalwarts Roger Pogoy, Calvin Oftana and Poy Erram, and NorthPort forward Arvin Tolentino.
Kevin Quiambao of De La Salle University and Ange Kouame of Ateneo de Manila University will also be part of the trip while 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto of the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League Australia will join the team in the Middle East.
The final 12-man roster will be submitted on the eve of Gilas’ game against Jordan.
Even Jordan’s final lineup had yet to be released at this time.
Jordan, which nearly made it to the championship round of the FIBA Asia Cup but lost to Lebanon in the finals, has two naturalized players, but likely to use Dar Tucker, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard.
Tucker, in fact, was the focal point of Gilas’ defense during their two-hour scrimmage. They have also prepared a special game plan on how to stop shooting guard Freddie Ibrahim and 6-foot-10 Ahmad Al-Dwairi.