MANILA, Philippines -- As they prepare for another prolonged stretch without their chief playmaker, NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao is focusing on the bright side.
Kiefer Ravena will likely miss the Road Warriors' remaining assignments in the elimination round of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, having flown to Japan to attend to the requirements of the B.League. Ravena was given approval by the PBA to play for the Shiga Lakestars at the end of NLEX's campaign in the conference, and both the league and the team also allowed him to go to Japan in order to process his documents.
However, the quarantine protocols both in Japan and the Philippines means that Ravena won't be back in time to join the Road Warriors in their Philippine Cup campaign, unless they make a deep run into the playoffs.
It's a reality that Guiao has already accepted.
"He will undergo 14 days quarantine in Japan and when he comes back to the Philippines, he will spend another 10 days in quarantine, so that’s more than three weeks," said Guiao in a previous report on NLEX's website. "Probably the only way we can have him back to play for us is during the semis, if we make it that far."
Even so, Guiao knows that there's a positive side to Ravena's upcoming stint as an Asian import in the B.League.
The 27-year-old guard is one of six Filipinos signed as Asian imports in the upcoming B.League season, and Guiao has no doubt that Ravena will return from Japan as a much-improved player.
"It's a career advancement for him," Guiao said, in another report on the NLEX website. "At the same time, he'll have a chance to become a better player."
"He could bring in some of the things he'll learn playing in the Japan B.League, and (we) hope these would also help us in the future," he added.
Ravena was only allowed to play in the B.League for one season, and he is expected to return to the Philippines upon the conclusion of Shiga's campaign. NLEX, which drafted him second overall in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft, retains his rights.
Ravena, who is currently fulfilling quarantine protocols in Japan, knows he still has much to offer the Road Warriors as well and is looking forward to what he can do for them upon his return.
"Apat na taon na ako sa NLEX. Kami ni Kevin (Alas), we haven't really played together for long," he pointed out.
NLEX hasn't maximized its much-anticipated "K & K" backcourt yet, after Ravena was suspended in 2018 due to a WADA violation while Alas dealt with knee injuries.
"Kung titingnan natin, talagang hindi pa kami naglalaro ng matagal. I think for both of us, the best has yet to come on what we could bring to the table," said Ravena.
The B.League season opens on September 30, with Shiga kicking off its campaign on October 2 against the San-En NeoPhoenix, which features Kiefer's younger brother Thirdy.
Other Filipinos playing in the B.League are: Juan Gomez de Liano (Earthfriends Tokyo Z), Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (Nagoya Diamond Dolphins), Javi Gomez de Liano (Ibaraki Robots), and Kemark Carino (Aomori Wat's).