Aside from the slight sense of urgency that prevails in Gilas Pilipinas' final stretch of preparations for the FIBA World Cup, Saturday's practice appeared to pass by like any other day for Kiefer Ravena.
Except, it's not. August 24 marks the day his 18-month ban ends.
The prospect of playing again excited him, which was evident in practice, when he stayed on the floor for 30 more minutes after their session ended to release some energy.
"I have to force myself to sleep, I guess, so I'm trying to tire myself out or at least, be active," he said. "I can't contain my energy. Like right now, I'm not letting all of it out. I'm trying to downplay it because if I let it all out, I might say a bunch of random stuff to you guys."
Ravena will have a chance to show he hasn't missed much on Sunday, when Gilas takes on the Adelaide 36ers in their second exhibition game at the Meralco Gym in Pasig. The team, however, wants to tamper any expectations on how the guard will be able to perform.
"We don't want to over expect, but the important thing is he can play now so we don't need to bother thinking about any consequence after today," said coach Yeng Guiao.
"I kinda saw how they played their defense and how they run their offense. At least I get to easy my mind so I can play my game without being too aggressive," Ravena added.
Guiao has no given indication that Ravena will start, although the guard says he won't be surprised if ever the coach decides to go that direction.
"We all know how coach Yeng, he surprises a lot of people especially his players but I won't be surprised if he starts me. That's what happened during my rookie season, first game he started me right away," he said.
Whatever the case may be, Guiao and Ravena mutually agreed that 25-year-old is physically up to the task despite having played his last game on May 23, 2018, when the national team lost against Mindanao in the PBA All-Star Weekend.
"Ever since he started practice, first time he was eligible to practice, he was already in shape. So that means that on his own, even before he came to practice officially, he was already working on his own, taking good care of himself. So there [were] not really any big adjustments in terms of getting in shape, conditioning, being strong," Guiao noted.
Some mental hurdles still need to be overcome, but the team is confident that they've done everything together with Ravena in order to lay out an easy and comfortable return.
"This is like a new start for his career. It's like his career's birthday again. This is his rebirth as a basketball player. I think all the things needed to put him in a good position to play tomorrow, we've done already," Guiao said.
"This is just really preparing myself, my mind on what's about to happen finally after 18 months of waiting. Now I have no reason to hold back. I've waited this all my time out of basketball and now it's here, and I can't waste any opportunity," Ravena said.