NLEX Road Warriors guard Kiefer Ravena brought 16 pairs of shoes, including one for golf. He also packed snacks to share with roommate JR Quiñahan. He also has his PlayStation set up in their room.
These are just some of the essentials Ravena brought with him into the Quest Hotel as the PBA players begin their wait for the resumption of the Philippine Cup on October 11.
"PlayStation dinala ko ngayon. Rekta na lang sa TV. Medyo mapupuyat tayo pag dala natin PC natin e," Ravena said in Tuesday's episode of 2OT.
Finally, the PBA is back. But to get here, much had to be sacrificed. Many more will come up during the bubble conference that will last for two months or so.
To say that surviving the conference is hard could be an understatement. NBA players have had a hard time dealing with anxiety inside the Disney World bubble, and it's likely the PBA will experience the same. But that's something Ravena and the rest of the PBA delegation are willing to go through.
"Of course mentally it could be draining. You're confined in an area na hanggang dun ka lang talaga. Walang pasyal. You see the same faces all the time," he said. "It's something we all wanted to sacrifice para matuloy ang PBA. When we're talking about it (season restart) we're all in sa plan of a PBA return."
They are also doing this in the name of entertainment and hope - which are much-coveted luxuries since COVID-19 has pretty much ruined everything normal since March.
"Malaking bagay din na makakapag laro kami. Sa mga tao rin, na makakapagbigay aliw uli kami sa kanila," he said.
"Sometimes this could give people a sense of hope. Kung PBA nakabalik, what more sila. May chance pa rin to bounce back, to return to how they were before, to have something to look forward to. It makes them talk about something else besides problems."
That's why now that the league is back, there's no room for mistakes inside the Clark bubble according to Ravena. Everyone must comply with the strict protocols laid out by the Inter Agency Task Force. One mistake and every sacrifice could go down the drain.
"The rules and protocols are set to be followed. You want to make sure everybody maintains proper hygiene, social distancing, with face shields, masks. Ayaw mong maging careless lang kasi isang mali baka matigil lahat. Mabuti nang safe para tuloy-tuloy pagbalik ng liga," he said.
Level playing field
With reigning six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo opting out since he is still recovering from injury, most believe it's going to be an open race.
Ravena begged to differ.
If the opening game between San Miguel Beermen and Magnolia last March is any indication, no one should count the reigning Philippine Cup champions out.
The cerebral playmaker said the Beermen are playing with a chip on their shoulders, hell-bent on proving they can win even without their prized center.
"Those guys will be ultra-competitive to prove otherwise. Pretty sure Chris (Ross), Alex (Cabagnot), those guys will be up on each other's noses when it comes to playing because they have a chip on their shoulders. They want to prove na kaya manalo kahit wala yung big guy nila," he said.
But before they worry about that, they need to focus on getting in basketball shape first.
Ravena admitted everyone's probably still trying to get back to 100 percent, since they have yet to play 5-on-5 after being caged for more or less six months due to the ongoing health crisis.
"Hindi mo alam baka may mga injuries pero sana wala naman. We're doing our best to get as close as 100 before playing," he said.
Right now, the players await the results of the swab tests administered on them upon arrival. If all turn out negative, teams can conduct scrimmages starting Thursday, according to Ravena.
Until then, Ravena is asking fans for prayers.
"We're praying yung results maging negative sa lahat. That's the final step of making this possible. i hope the fans can include us in their prayers. Tao rin kami, medyo nakakalungkot din kung wala family. But we're here to sacrifice, to win," he said.
"The PBA is here. The PBA is finally back. I'm excited to play in front of you virtually."