Kiefer Ravena will join the 11-man Gilas Pilipinas team that will head to Spain Sunday but he will not compete in the pocket tournament because his 18-month FIBA suspension will only end August 24.
Ravena has been practicing with Gilas and NLEX since June 24 because FIBA allows a suspended athlete to return to training in the last two months or last quarter of his period of ineligibility. But as clarified by FIBA through a letter, Ravena is still prohibited from playing in any official and friendly games.
"We don't want to risk it but we'll see what happens," said Guiao. "If there's word from the FIBA that he can play, of course we'll play him. But if not, it will be status quo. Like what we did when we played against Mighty [Sports], he's just gonna be there to observe."
Ravena is grateful for the trust that Gilas continues to give to him so he vows to maximize the next few days of his suspension despite the limitations.
"I just gotta be mentally tough because whatever I want to do, there's a limit to the things I can still do," said Ravena. "Once August 24 hits, I should be as prepared as them. I have no reason to get left behind. We'll still have practices out there and their only advantage is they'll be playing."
"I still have to do my assignment, I have to work out and stay in shape," added Ravena. "It's not a vacation for me. I wish it was, but no, it's work. All these guys made their sacrifices, it's the offseason for them right now. I've been vacant for the past 18 months, unlike them who haven't had rest. I still have to work my butt off."
Gilas will play practice games with Congo and Ivory Coast in Guadalajara before competing in the pocket tournament in Malaga. Gilas needs to win against Congo to advance to the final match against either Ivory Coast or Spain in the four-team competition.
Ten players -- Andray Blatche, Gabe Norwood, Matthew Wright, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Poy Erram, Japeth Aguilar, Beau Belga, CJ Perez, and Robert Bolick -- will represent the Philippines in Spain.
"This is an important stage for our preparation. This is a time where we can really focus 100 percent on what we need to do, on the system that we're trying to set up," said Guiao. "We'll just try to get all the work done to put this team together in the eight days that we're in Spain. There's also really good competition there so we can gauge if we're ready."
San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo and TNT's Troy Rosario and RR Pogoy will not join the national team because of the best-of-seven PBA finals that will start Sunday.
Gilas will also miss the services of Raymond Almazan (denied visa), Stanley Pringle (minor ankle injury), and Marcio Lassiter (MCL sprain).