MANILA, Philippines -- An apologetic Kiefer Ravena on Saturday vowed to return to the PBA at the conclusion of his one-season stint with the Shiga Lakestars, after securing permission from the league to play in Japan's B.League.
Ravena's contract impasse with the PBA came to an amicable end on Saturday when the NLEX Road Warriors, his mother team, confirmed that they have reached an agreement with the league that will allow the guard to play in Japan.
This comes after the PBA initially barred Ravena from playing in the B.League, as the "uniform player contract" that he signed binds him not just to NLEX but also to the PBA itself.
"The NLEX Road Warriors are happy to announce that an agreement has been reached with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to allow Kiefer Ravena to play in the Japan B League for one season," the team said.
Ravena, in a prepared statement, acknowledged that he made an error in signing with the Lakestars before securing an official clearance from the PBA.
"As everyone knows, and as widely reported, I had an existing three-year UPC contract under employment which I had signed with the NLEX Road Warriors last September 2020. I understand the UPC is viewed as a tripartite agreement by and with the PBA, and that my signing with Shiga could have caused legal repercussions," he said.
"This caused undue controversy and bad vibes with the PBA, which I know is only looking out for the best interest of Philippine basketball, and for us, PBA players," he added.
Ravena also apologized to the PBA Board of Governors and commissioner Willie Marcial, as well as to the fans for "the controversy and the distraction."
Ravena, who was the second overall pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft, was only given the go-signal to play in Japan for one season, and he has to return to the Philippines upon the conclusion of his contract with Shiga.
Marcial warned of sanctions if Ravena does not honor this agreement. However, he also noted that Ravena gave him his word to return after one year in Japan. This was also part of a written contract signed by Ravena, according to the commissioner.
"Nangako sa akin si Kiefer, babalik siya. May mga sanction na sinabi ko kay Kiefer 'pag hindi siya bumalik… Hindi naman tungkol sa pera, 'yun ang sinabi niya sa akin. 'Babalik ako, gusto ko lang ma-experience ang international.' 'Yan ang sinasabi niya sa akin," said Marcial.
Ravena himself said he has every intention of fulfilling his side of the deal.
"I'm very much excited to play for Shiga this season. I am excited to wave the Philippine flag… I'll be back next year to suit up for the NLEX Road Warriors and play in front of our home fans," he said.
Even amid his contract dispute, Ravena was included in Shiga's 12-man roster for its upcoming season.
Shiga opens its B.League campaign on October 2 -- against the San-En NeoPhoenix, the team of Ravena's younger brother, Thirdy.
The PBA season is expected to run until October. Ravena will play for NLEX until the conclusion of its Philippine Cup campaign, at which point his existing contract is terminated. The Road Warriors will retain his rights, however, and he is expected to sign a new contract with the team upon his return from the B.League.