For Filipino star Kiefer Ravena, the competition level in the PBA and in Japan's B.League are "not too far" apart.
Ravena last weekend made his debut for the Shiga Lakestars in the first division of the B.League, splitting their two-game series with the San-En NeoPhoenix, the team that features his younger brother Thirdy. The former Ateneo de Manila University star had a solid start to his B.League career, averaging 15.5 points and 7.5 assists in his first two games.
It was Ravena's first official game since July 25, when he had five points and seven assists in the NLEX Road Warriors' 108-94 rout of the TerraFirma Dyip in the PBA.
"I think it's not too far, in terms of competition," Ravena said of the two professional leagues.
"It's just that you just have to adjust to the speed and the physicality out here, also. They play differently out here, you have to adjust to the referees and everybody," he noted.
Ravena barely missed a beat in his first B.League game, putting up 11 points and eight assists to pilot the Lakestars' 93-83 comeback win against the NeoPhoenix. The next day, he dropped 20 points on 4-of-9 shooting along with seven dimes, but this time San-En came away with the 101-96 triumph.
That the level of competition in the PBA and the B.League is similar comes as no surprise to Ravena, given the battles between the Philippines and Japan in the international level over the past few years.
Gilas Pilipinas was actually grouped with Japan in the qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, with the Philippines winning both of their games. Both teams went on to play in the FIBA showpiece event in China.
"I think in terms of competition, Japan and the Philippines have always been neck and neck in international competition," said Ravena, a mainstay of the Gilas Pilipinas national team.
"I'm just so happy to be able to represent my league as well, in the Philippines and showcase our worth as Filipino basketball players in the professional league, in the PBA," he added.
"So I think in terms of competition, both are there (at that level)."
There are some differences in how the leagues are run: the B.League allows each team to hire three imports, although only two can play at the same time. The PBA, of course, only allows for one import per team. The schedule is also different, with B.League teams playing on back-to-back days.
Ravena is confident that he will be able to adjust quickly to these changes.
"It's just the adjustment of playing internationally, and playing with new teammates, and playing against different teams," he said. "I think also the big adjustment for me is the back-to-backs, playing Saturday and Sunday. We rarely get those in the Philippines, but it is what it is. You have to make sure that our minds and our bodies are always ready for it."
Ravena and the Lakestars return to action this weekend against the Ibaraki Robots.