'Almost a done deal': Guiao targets Kiefer Ravena as replacement for Castro

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao believes he has already found a replacement for Jayson Castro in the person of Kiefer Ravena.

Ravena, who has not played in any form of basketball for over 450 days due to a FIBA-mandated suspension, is the "most logical choice" to fill up the void left by Castro.

"It's almost a done deal for Jayson's slot," Guiao told reporters on Saturday.

Ravena is still under suspension until August 24, but is allowed under FIBA rules to practice with the national team during "the last two months of ineligibility or the last one-quarter of period of ineligibility imposed."

Ravena, who had tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs that are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in February 2018, is no stranger to national team duty. He last played for Gilas in February 2018 against Japan, where he contributed 13 points and five assists off the bench to help lead them to an 89-84 comeback win.

Ravena is expected to attend the Gilas practice Monday. PBA rookies CJ Perez and Robert Bolick were also tapped to join the Gilas pool.

"I saw that (Ravena) did not let himself go physically. He's going to be probably a little out of shape or off timing but my guess is it will take a short time for him to recover from where he left off before he was suspended," Guiao, who is also Ravena's coach in the PBA, said in Filipino. "He will return to his game shape in a short time."

Guiao knows they will have to slowly ease Ravena in, given the long layover.

"I'm not worried about him actually. I have no worries about Kiefer. He's going to be competitive and he's going to be ready for the World Cup," mentioned Guiao.

ESPN5's Lyn Olavario contributed to this report.