MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Reversing its earlier decision, the PBA on Saturday announced that it is allowing Kiefer Ravena to play for the Shiga Lakestars in Japan's B.League.
This comes after discussions among the NLEX Road Warriors, the PBA Board of Governors, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, and Ravena's camp.
Ravena, 27, signed a contract with Shiga in June but was almost immediately barred by the PBA from playing in the B.League, citing the "uniform player contract" that he signed with the Road Warriors.
"Pinayagan ng Board of Governors, kami, ng PBA si Kiefer," Marcial said in a press conference. "(Pero) may mga kundisyon kami. Hindi ito magiging precedent."
The Road Warriors, who selected Ravena with the second overall pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft and signed him to a three-year contract extension in September 2020, said that they reached an agreement with the PBA that will allow the guard to play in the B.League for one season.
Ravena will continue to play in the on-going PBA Philippine Cup, where NLEX currently has a 1-2 win-loss record. He will play until the Road Warriors' final game of the conference, after which his existing contract with the team is terminated.
Upon the completion of his one-season stint with Shiga, Ravena will return to the Philippines where he will sign a new contract with the Road Warriors.
"We understand Kiefer’s pursuit for personal development and the desire to showcase the Filipino brand of basketball overseas by suiting up for the Shiga Lakestars. We gave Kiefer our conditional support in fulfilling his dreams of playing abroad," the NLEX management said in a statement.
"But … we needed to conduct a deliberate review of his contract before a release could be issued," the team explained.
"It is our sincere hope that the basketball fans now move on as we resolve this issue amicably. We thank the PBA Board and the Commissioner for their leadership and utmost cooperation on this matter. We also thank Kiefer and his family, and most of all the Road Warriors fans for their understanding and support."
Ravena acknowledged his error in signing a contract with Shiga while still holding a live contract with NLEX.
"I should have sought clearance from the PBA before signing with Shiga," he admitted. "I understand that the UPC is viewed as a tripartite agreement… My signing with Shiga could have caused legal repercussions."
Ravena escaped sanction for his move but the NLEX organization will be fined an undisclosed amount, said Marcial.
It was emphasized during the press conference that Ravena will only play for Shiga for one season, and that he has vowed to return to the PBA upon the conclusion of his deal with the Lakestars. According to Marcial, Ravena faces sanctions should he go back on his word.
"Nangako sa akin si Kiefer, babalik siya. May mga sanction na sinabi ko kay Kiefer 'pag hindi siya bumalik," the commissioner explained.
Ravena is currently averaging 19.3 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Road Warriors.
In Japan, he will join younger brother Thirdy who is set to play for the San-En NeoPhoenix for the second consecutive season. Other Filipinos who have signed for B.League teams are: Juan Gomez de Liano (Earthfriends Tokyo Z in Division 2), and Javi Gomez de Liano (Ibaraki Robots) and Kemark Carino (Aomori Wat's in Division 2).