BROTHERS Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and former University of the Philippines stalwart Kobe Paras had solid debuts in the 2021-2022 season of the Japan B.League at the weekend.
Three of eight Filipinos seeing action in the Japanese league this season, the trio produced quality performances in their maiden outings to get their respective campaigns to a good start.
The Ravenas collided on Saturday with Kiefer and his Shiga Lakestars coming from behind to defeat Thirdy and the visiting San-en NeoPhoenix, 93-83, in their opener.
Kiefer, who got a release from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and his mother team NLEX Road Warriors to play in the B.League for one season, did not start for Shiga, but made his presence felt throughout the contest.
The older Ravena was a stabilizing factor for the Lakestars, who at one point in the third period trailed NeoPhoenix by 22 points, 37-59.
Kiefer, who is his team’s Asian import, finished with all-around numbers of 11 points, eight assists, three rebounds, and three steals with zero turnovers.
His play complemented well the performance of Shiga’s international imports Ovie Soko, Sean O’mara, and Novar Gadson, who each scored 18, 17 and 16 points, respectively, as well as local Teppei Kashiwagura, who had 14, as they went on to complete the come-from-behind victory in front of their hometown fans.
Thirdy, for his part, had his struggles in his first game back, especially in shooting the ball, going 4-of-14 for the game, but was still a factor in other facets of the game.
Playing his second season in the B.League after coming on board last year, the younger of the Ravena brothers also had 11 points to go along with five rebounds and two steals.
He was tasked to defend the best players of the opposing team, including Kiefer, and made a good account of himself especially in the early goings where they built a huge lead.
Kiefer and Thirdy were set to play one another anew on Sunday in the second game of back-to-back matches.
“Adjustments here have been a little easy. It is a cool and fun place to be at. They have been polite and respectful wherever you go. I’m excited with my new team and new adventure with the Shiga Lakestars. It’s a young team and hopefully, we can be successful this season,” said Kiefer of playing in Japan this season.
Meanwhile, Mr. Paras introduced himself in the Japan league in explosive fashion, pumping in 25 points in Niigata Albirex BB’s 81-85 loss to Kyoto Hannaryz also on Saturday.
The son of PBA legend Benjie, Mr. Paras scored 20 of his total points in the opening half, showing his offensive skills in varying ways to help his team to a 51-40 advantage at the half.
Unfortunately, they could not sustain it and saw Kyoto overtake them in the second half en route to the victory.
Mr. Paras also had four assists and two steals. He was to play again on Sunday in a rematch with Kyoto.
Other Filipinos seeing action in the Japan B.League both in Division 1 and 2 are Ray Parks, Jr., Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Dwight Ramos and Kemark Cariño.
Games of the Filipino players in the B.League are aired in the Philippines by sports media distribution company Tap Digital Media Ventures (TapDMV) through its over-the-top (OTT) platform TAP GO and cable channel Tap Sports. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo