On Tuesday (June 1), it was announced that Kiefer Ravena successfully inked a deal with Japanese B. League team Shiga Lakestars. Many basketball fans saw this particular development as an amazing opportunity for Ravena and a chance to showcase Filipino basketball prowess abroad.
The 27-year-old baller’s recent accomplishment follows after the re-signing of his younger brother Thirdy Ravena to another Japanese B. League team – San-En NeoPhoenix – which garnered similar well-wishes from fans and other Filipino basketball players.
Despite the positive feedback, the older Ravena’s celebration was cut short after the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner Willie Marcial made it known that the point guard’s latest career move could put him at odds with the local league.
According to Marcial, Kiefer’s plan to play for the foreign team is a breach of his existing three-year contract with the NLEX Road Warriors, which was signed last year. Marcial noted that the young player still has obligations to fulfill with his local team.
“Ang sa akin lang, hindi pwede ‘yan. May kontrata pa siya sa NLEX so hindi talaga ‘yan pwede,” Marcial shared in an interview with GMA News.
“As a commissioner, sinasabi ko, hindi ‘yan pwede kasi nasa UPC [Uniform Player Contract] pa siya. May obligasyon siya sa NLEX.” he explained further.
In an official statement, NLEX offered their support towards Kiefer’s signing with the Shiga Lakestars. However, the team is standing by the terms established in the UPC contract.
“We understand and support Kiefer’s desire for personal advancement,” the team said.
“The NLEX Road Warriors stand by the tripartite agreement between our organization, the PBA, and the individual player, which is enshrined in the Uniform Player Contract (UPC). The Japan engagement of Kiefer will need to conform to the terms of the UPC as well as the rules and policies of the PBA,” NLEX explained.
At present, the situation is yet to be resolved and it’s still unknown what fate awaits the deal Kiefer made with the Shiga Lakestars.
However, with how the situation is unfolding, it’s clear what PBA’s stand is on the matter, especially when it comes to legal discourse. But that doesn’t mean Kiefer stands no chance at all at overturning this.
On that note, here are four reasons why we think the PBA should allow Kiefer to pursue his stint in Japan’s B. League:
It can open new opportunities for the PBA.
If the PBA allows Kiefer to play in a foreign league, it will not only benefit the latter’s career but it could also be an opportunity for the former to expand its network of influence, specifically with other Asian leagues.
In 2020, the Korean Basketball League (KBL) and the Japanese B. League established the ‘Asian Player Quota‘ scheme, which allows Japanese basketball players to play in the KBL.
Through Kiefer, the PBA could foster a similar relationship with the B. League – opening doors for improved cooperation. This could mean training camps being set in the country and tuneup games being organized between Filipino and foreign teams regularly.
It will bring back fans.
It’s not unknown that in recent years, the PBA League has experienced a decline in gate attendance. One way to address this issue is by giving fans something new.
If the PBA successfully establishes relationships with foreign leagues by allowing local players to play abroad, games between local and foreign teams could be possible – something fans would be interested in.
It will help elevate players’ skills.
Our local basketball scene is home to diverse, naturally talented players, however, the league’s current stance of not allowing players to venture out and immerse themselves in different playing fields abroad is hurting local talents’ chance at elevating their level of playing.
The chance to play in foreign leagues will allow Filipino athletes access to different techniques, strategies, and a chance to face players they usually won’t play against within the local league. This will prove beneficial for the country and the league when it comes to international tournaments like FIBA or the Olympics – wherein players are expected to face-off against a varied selection of opponents.
It will be good for PBA’s image.
Early this month, the PBA earned the ire of the public for its ‘draft dodger rule,’ an issue that Kiefer’s brother, Thidy, faced after signing a three-year deal with the San-en NeoPhoenix.
According to the rule, rookie players who skip the draft more than two years after their last playing year in college will be permanently banned from the PBA League.
Former PBA commissioner Noli Eala also had some choice words to say about the rule, which he described as ‘a sign of insecurity and weakness.’ San Miguel Beermen head coach Leo Austria also chimed in and asked the PBA to review the rule, which could deprive young players of international opportunities.
This is where Kiefer comes in – allowing the 27-year-old athlete to play for Japan will help PBA alleviate the public’s growing negative perception of the league – specifically the notion that it’s self-serving.
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Image credit: Zhong Zhi / Getty Images