PHILIPPINE Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup action resumes today following a more than a week break to give way to All-Star festivities with a double-header set at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Kicking off things is the collision between currently struggling teams Blackwater Elite and NLEX Road Warriors at 4:30 p.m. to be followed by the game between the defending champions San Miguel Beermen and Phoenix Fuel Masters at 7 p.m.
Winless in six games to date, the Elite hope to turn things around and infuse life back to a slowly slipping campaign in the midseason PBA conference when they trek back to the court.
To help them in their turnaround bid, they are bringing back old reliable import Henry Walker to take the place of Jarrid Famous.
While Mr. Famous provided the needed numbers for now-Bong Ramos-coached Blackwater, he was not able to tow the team to collective success, something the squad hopes to change with the arrival of Mr. Walker.
The former National Basketball Association campaigner, who had stints with New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, suited up for the Elite in last year’s Governors’ Cup and led them to a spirited run to the quarterfinals.
Trying to keep the Elite winless are the Road Warriors, themselves grappling to find form with a 1-4 record.
Made it all the way to the semifinals of the previous conference, NLEX has started slow in the ongoing tournament, opening its campaign with three straight losses and has been continuing to look for consistency since.
The Road Warriors are coming off a loss in their last game against GlobalPort Batang Pier, 116-94, on May 16.
Rookie Kiefer Ravena led the way for NLEX in said game, finishing with 24 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals while import Arnett Moultrie had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two blocks.
Unfortunately for the Road Warriors, they may be missing the services of Ravena for today’s game and possibly more after the prized rookie, also a member of the Gilas Pilipinas national team, failed the random drug testing of FIBA during the second window of the qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
In urine samples taken from him after their game against Japan on Feb. 25 here in Manila, Mr. Ravena was found positive for three ingredients prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), namely, 4-methylhexan-2-amine (methylhexaneamine), 1,3-dimethylbutylamine (DMBA), and higenamine.
The prohibited substances were found in the pre-warm-up supplement that the player took.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the national federation for the sport, was quick to say though that the said substances are not illegal in the country and can be bought over the counter but are prohibited under the WADA list.
By failing the test, Mr. Ravena was meted an 18-month suspension by FIBA and is not allowed to compete from Feb. 25, 2018, the date when the samples were taken, to Aug. 24, 2019.
The SBP said that it has communicated with FIBA, seeking clarification whether the ruling also covers Mr. Ravena’s standing in the PBA.
NLEX has said that it is standing beside Mr. Ravena in this tough time in his career and vowed to give him the needed support.
Mr. Ravena, for his part, manned up for his actions and said he would use the unfortunate event to help others be aware of what they take in their bodies.
“Main lesson here is not everything you can buy is legal. I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m going to use this to create awareness to be discerning in what you take,” Mr. Ravena said to members of media in a press conference on Monday night. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo