KIEFER RAVENA has been signed by the Shiga Lakestars to play in the Japan B.League, the team announced on Wednesday. — FIBA

IF plans push through, make it two Ravenas playing in the Japanese basketball league.

In a surprise announcement on Wednesday, Japan B.League team Shiga Lakestars relayed on social media that it has signed Kiefer Ravena to play for them in the 2021-22 season.

The development will see Mr. Ravena play in the same league as his younger brother Thirdy, who made his B.League debut this year with the San En NeoPhoenix team.

In signing Mr. Ravena, the Lakestars took note of his showing in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments as well as the large following the player has as a player.

With Shiga, Mr. Ravena, part of the NLEX Road Warriors in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), will join a team which finished last season with a 23-36 record in the West region of the B.League. He will play in the same region as his brother.

Mr. Ravena is set to be formally introduced by Shiga in a press conference set for Monday next week.

News of Mr. Ravena playing in Japan came out early this year, with no less than NLEX coach Yeng Guiao confirming the news that his player got a good offer to play in Japan.

The coach said they are aware of Mr. Ravena’s desire to pursue the opportunity presented to him, but said it was going to be easier said than done as a number of requirements had to be met before it becomes a reality.

The Road Warriors have yet to issue a comment on the latest development and the status of Mr. Ravena’s contract with the team, with whom he signed an extension with last year.

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, however, said under existing rules, Mr. Ravena playing in Japan is going to be tricky.

“Under PBA rules, it is not allowed since he is under contract,” the league chief said.

Mr. Ravena was selected second overall by NLEX in the 2017 rookie draft. He saw his full takeoff in the PBA derailed when he was imposed an 18-month suspension by FIBA for testing positive for banned substances during one of its tournaments.

In the PBA’s tournament “bubble” last season, Mr. Ravena and the Road Warriors narrowly missed the playoffs with a 5-6 record. He posted averages of 19.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and a steal throughout their bubble run.

The Japan B.League usually starts its season in October where competing teams play a set of home and away matches in the regular season. It has become a viable option for Filipino players of late as the league allows the hiring of Asian imports. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo