Rookie hopeful Reavis prefers Gins in PBA
- Joaquin M. Henson () - January 9, 2002 - 12:00am
If he had a choice, Rafi Reavis would like to play for Barangay Ginebra in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). That’s because the Kings suit his up-tempo, high-energy style. And Reavis wouldn’t mind breaking out with runners like Mark Caguioa and Jay-Jay Helterbrand.

Another choice is San Miguel Beer where his former Coppin State teammate Dorian Pena plays.

But realistically, Reavis thinks he’ll wind up playing elsewhere. Not that it matters much. Reavis says he’ll play flat-out for any team that gives him a chance to do his thing.

Reavis, 24, is one of three 6-8 rookie hopefuls in the PBA draft this Sunday. The others are Yancy de Ocampo and Jeffrey Flowers. A PBA source confirmed that Reavis is the first Fil-Am rookie applicant to turn in his Department of Justice clearance.

As D-Day nears, Reavis says he’s neither nervous nor excited. "I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to play in the PBA," he continues. "I’m grateful to the MBA (Metropolitan Basketball Association) for a lot of things – first, winning the title with San Juan was a highlight in my career two years ago and second, coach (Philip) Cezar gave me back the confidence I lost in college."

Reavis says he expects to be picked from No. 2 to No. 6, depending on which team is choosing. "I can see myself playing for Shell or Sta. Lucia or Pop Cola or whatever," he says. "I’m comfortable playing the three-spot. I can also play two and I’ve defended against point guards to centers. I do what’s best for my team–I play my role. I bring a lot of energy on the floor, I block shots, I defend, I rebound, I score on the break, I bang inside, I hit from outside, I do what it takes to win."

In high school in Florida, Reavis averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds as a senior. "I felt I was unstoppable until I went to Coppin State," he says. At Coppin State, Reavis teamed with former PBA import Terquin Mott and Pena. He never got the playing time he thought he deserved and blamed coach Ron (Fang) Mitchell for it. His stats were inconsequential as he averaged less than 10 minutes a game.

When he was a sophomore, Reavis recalls compiling eight points and nine rebounds in the first five minutes of a game against Florida A&M then Mitchell pulled him out and didn’t put him back in again. "My family drove out to watch me play," he moans. "I just wished I could’ve played longer."

Reavis says he thought of leaving school but decided against it. His objective, after all, wasn’t just to play hoops. He stuck it out at Coppin State – an NCAA Division 1 school in Baltimore – until he earned a degree in biology. Someday, he hopes to go to medical school.

Reavis’ late father Jesse was born in South Cotabato. His real name was Joselito Abundo. He went to the US when he was 17 and settled in New York doing odd jobs, mainly upholstery work. A full-blooded Filipino, he was adopted by the Reavis family and changed his name to facilitate his migrant status.

Reavis’ father met his mother, Laura Missouri – who had two sons in a previous relationship – in New York where he was born. When Reavis was only three years old, his parents split up and he went with his mother to Florida. He saw his father only twice after that – when he was 14 and when he graduated from college.

After graduation, Reavis tried his luck playing in a Filipino league in Carson City and the Pro-Am league in Long Beach. While barnstorming in the West Coast, he was spotted by San Juan recruiter Alan Borromeo. Reavis later hooked up with Knights owners Sandy Javier and Mayor Jinggoy Estrada.

In 1999 – the day before he flew to Manila to play for San Juan, Reavis attended his father’s funeral in Washington, DC. He died of prostate cancer.

Reavis averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights in two MBA seasons. Unlike at Coppin State where he got homesick, Reavis felt at ease here. "I’m more Filipino than American," he says. "I love Filipino food, I think I’m humble like the average Filipino. I’ll take a Filipina for a wife anytime over an American. I’ve decided to settle down here – I’m here for life. I plan to look for my father’s relatives in South Cotabato and trace my roots."

Basketball, of course, is his priority for the moment. He’s single. He lives alone. And he likes it like that. No strings attached – just basketball’s on his mind. Maybe, medical school in the future.

Who does he idolize in the National Basketball Association? "I like Tracy McGrady — I try to play like him, and Rasheed Wallace, without the attitude," he replies. "In the PBA, I like Danny Seigle – I like his game, the way he brings up the ball, his leaping ability, the way he shoots – sometimes, he does things with the ball I couldn’t imagine anyone doing."

Reavis, known for his quickness and athleticism, promises to make an impact in the PBA — for any team that picks him in the draft.

ALAN BORROMEO AS D-DAY AT COPPIN STATE BARANGAY GINEBRA COPPIN STATE NEW YORK PLAY REAVIS SAN JUAN SOUTH COTABATO
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