No Kiefer Ravena in NLEX roster as PBA return hangs in balance

Kiefer Ravena, despite his willingness, is not part of NLEX's PBA Philippine Cup lineup. B.League (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—All of a sudden, there is an uncertainty on whether Kiefer Ravena will return to the PBA at least this Philippine Cup.

The six-foot star point guard is not listed in NLEX's lineup for the season-opening conference as revealed to reporters on Monday during the preseason press conference at the Conrad Manila Ballroom.

The dilemma arose due to the schedules for both the PBA and the B.League seasons.

As part of an agreed compromise due to his live contracts with both the Road Warriors and the Shiga Lakestars, Ravena has to play the entire 2022-23 season in the PBA after finishing the 2021-22 season with Shiga.

However, the fact that the Philippine Cup will end by Sept. 2 at the latest, barely a month before the start of the B.League season, led to a possibility that Ravena could be cleared to return to Japan after just one conference.

Asked about the plausibility of the situation, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said that it would still need the approval from the board of governors.

Ie-elevate ko sa board. Kasi ang board din ang nag-desisyon doon sa sitwasyon ni Kiefer—kung papayagan nila. I-elevate ko sa board kung ano ang pinakamaganda at sa tingin nila na makakabuti sa lahat.

However, Marcial himself said that he is also awaiting the final agreement between Ravena and NLEX, although the executive added that the five-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist has already expressed his intent to play in the Philippine Cup.

"Nag-uusap nila as of now, pero sumulat na sa akin [si Kiefer]," he further said.

Marcial then confirmed that Ravena wants to only play in the said conference and finish the 2022-23 season in the B.League.

Whether only playing in the PBA Philippine Cup will suffice as Ravena honoring his agreement with the PBA board is something the board will discuss in the coming days.

"Counted ba yun? Paano ba yun? Papaalisin ba natin o doon na siya, tapos saka siya bumalik, o aalis siya, pipinahan natin? Yun ang mga pag-uusapan namin," Marcial added.

It will still depend on what the Road Warriors will finally agree upon.

"I leave that to NLEX to deal with Kiefer. I think Kiefer has made promises, and they're dealing with it. So NLEX should be able to come up with a decision. Then we will discuss in the board what's best for the player and for us," PBA board chairman Ricky Vargas said.

However, they have to act fast.

"Kailangan within this week, may desisyon na. June 5 na ang opening eh," Marcial added.

NLEX, though, will only begin its campaign on June 8 against Terrafirma, which features another B.League standout in former Ibaraki Robot Javi Gomez De Liano.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno