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NLEX's Kiefer Ravena likens PBA bubble to 'one big basketball camp'

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PBA players in the bubble (1:46)

SP_EP. 45 Sidebar Segment (1:46)

The next two months will provide a very unique situation for the PBA, which will hold and organize a tournament in a shortened format with all 12 teams converging at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) gym in Angeles, Pampanga to determine the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup champion.

During the entire duration of the tournament that will tip off on Sunday, teams are not allowed to wander off or leave the bubble. Doing so will draw stiff fines and a five-game suspension the next season.

Just like other players, NLEX Road Warriors guard Kiefer Ravena is relishing the experience inside the bubble.

"I've been talking with Asi [Taulava], and we both said it felt like one big basketball camp involving the PBA, which you can only play basketball, lift weights, eat, and bond together. So far, it's been okay," Ravena told TV5's Lyn Olavario on Thursday.

NLEX will be playing in the opening day nightcap against Ginebra on Sunday (6:45 p.m. on TV5, One Sports and PBA Rush).

All teams are just given two hours practice at the AUF gym at any given day, with the main court at the top floor and a makeshift court downstairs serving as the practice courts.

Ravena admits that due to the fluid schedule, their daily routine is affected, but it provides the same predicament for everybody.

Furthermore, games will be played on a daily basis with doubleheaders being broadcast live on ONE Sports, PBA Rush, and on livestream everyday, and on TV5 during Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

ONE of the caveats of the bubble is that players can't necessarily do anything they want. The sense of normalcy will not be there, so they look for things that would keep them occupied for the rest of the way.

Doing the laundry has now become an integral part of team camaraderie, says Ravena, as players can relate with each other when washing their own clothes.

"The convenience of being at home and having a washing machine to do the work for you, it's different. We all had experienced this before, but you can see teammates like Asi do his laundry, hang his clothes. Everywhere you go here in the bubble, you will more likely see clothes left hanging to dry," Ravena recalled.

The 26-year-old guard also keeps himself entertained by bringing his iPad to watch series on Netflix, and his PlayStation 4 to play NBA 2K during his spare time. He has also played golf.

Kiefer's father, TNT head coach Bong, is also in the bubble, though he had only seen him once since they entered the bubble.

"He calls me everyday, asks be how I've been doing, and vice versa. I also ask him what his plays are," Ravena said in jest.

"We're only separated by floors but at the same time, we're both in an environment of competition. We want to balance everything, set our priorities straight. The both of us already bonded long enough during quarantine," he added.

Ravena will be playing his first All-Filipino since being handed down a suspension by FIBA in February 2018, which gives him an extra punch of motivation.

The former Ateneo standout believes all of them carry that desire to just play again, but hopes no one gets injured during the tournament.

"Probably from a previous experience of not playing for a long time, you can't set aside your excitement and anxiety. It's just about balancing yourself. You still have teammates," opined Ravena.

"You can't just think about yourself, find a way to calm down, and make sure everybody's on the same page. I think that's one of my jobs, is to let my teammates now to balance everything, the excitement, the calmness, you still giving out your best but at the same time, being controlled and cool under pressure," added the floor general.