BASKETBALL star Kiefer Ravena’s targeted stint with the Japan B.League is on hold as the parties concerned, including the local professional league, try to further sort out the matter.
In a virtual press conference on Saturday, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Board of Governors reiterated its stand that Mr. Ravena is not allowed to play in the Japanese league as he has an existing contract with the NLEX Road Warriors and the league.
“The PBA has decided that Kiefer has to honor his contract,” said PBA chairman Ricky Vargas in the hurriedly organized press conference following the board’s meeting.
The league official shared that they looked at all possible scenarios and all the risks involved in the situation before making the decision.
The PBA was made to decide after news broke out last week that the Shiga Lakestars signed Mr. Ravena to play for the team in the B.League’s 2021-22 season.
No sooner after the Shiga Lakestars announced that they had signed versatile guard Ravena, the PBA came out and said it is not going to be possible.
The league said that Mr. Ravena is bound by the Uniform Players’ Contract (UPC) he signed with NLEX and the PBA which he must honor and adhere to.
“Kiefer has a UPC which he has to abide by. It’s the player’s contract. So he’s not allowed to play in other leagues,” PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.
Mr. Ravena signed a three-year extension with the Road Warriors last year following a solid outing in the league’s “bubble” tournament where he averaged 19.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and a steal throughout their run.
Earlier this year, however, news of Mr. Ravena getting a “good offer” to play in Japan broke out.
No less than NLEX coach Yeng Guiao confirmed the news. The coach said they support Mr. Ravena’s desire to pursue the opportunity presented to him, but admitted it was going to be easier said than done as a number of requirements had to be met for it to be a reality.
The PBA said after the press conference it was to communicate its decision to Mr. Ravena, the Lakestars and the B.League, and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas just as it asked local fans for understanding.
“I know the fans want him to play there. We also want that. But there’s a contract that should be followed. It’s basic. We really can’t let this pass,” Mr. Marcial said.
The league also deemed the Ravena situation as a “difficult precedent” not only for the PBA but also for world basketball governing body FIBA, whose approval is also needed for such kinds of transfer.
“FIBA is also very strict on contracts. FIBA deems the contracts of the players sacrosanct as well,” Mr. Vargas said.
So as not to complicate the situation further, Shiga said it was postponing the formal announcement of Mr. Ravena as a member of the Lakestars set for Monday.
“We have decided to postpone the press conference until a more appropriate time, as holding a press conference with Ravena and us at this time may add more confusion to the situation,” the team said in a statement.
“We will continue discussions to resolve this issue.”
Playing in Japan would make Mr. Ravena the second Filipino player to play in the league following his younger brother Thirdy, who plays for the San En NeoPhoenix team. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo