MANILA, Philippines -- He has yet to watch a full game, but NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is not at all surprised to see that Kiefer Ravena has made a seamless transition from the PBA to Japan's B.League.
Ravena was given clearance by the NLEX Road Warriors and the PBA to play for one season for the Shiga Lakestars, and he has wasted no time in showing the Japanese audience what he is capable of.
In his first five games, Ravena has averaged 27.5 minutes per contest for Shiga, contributing 12.2 points, 5.4 assists, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game. The Lakestars are 4-1 so far in the 2021-22 B.League season, tied for the top spot in the West.
Speaking on "Power and Play" on Saturday, Guiao said he was "not surprised" at Ravena's strong start in the B.League.
"Kiefer has been playing consistently for us before he left. He was in excellent shape, ang ganda ng kundisyon niya noong bago siya umalis," he pointed out.
Before he left for Japan, Ravena put up 15.8 points and a league-leading 6.5 assists per game for the Road Warriors in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup. He was also shooting 42.3% from beyond the arc on over six attempts per game.
His quarantine period in Japan did not seem to affect Ravena's conditioning as he has been consistently finishing games for the Lakestars. He struggled in their game against Kyoto on Saturday, scoring a season-low six points and failing to dish out an assist, but before that he had been the team's go-to playmaker in crunch time.
"Alam naman natin si Kiefer is an experienced baller internationally," said Guiao. "Kasama ko siya sa World Cup, kasama namin siya one year before that, training kami ng Spain, ng Europe, iba-ibang windows ng World Cup."
"So, he did not surprise me that he would do well in Japan, kasi kabisado naman niya 'yung laro eh. And because of his talent, he can easily adjust to whatever situation," he added.
Guiao admitted that he has only seen video clips of Ravena's highlights but have yet to actually catch a full game. Yet even from the snippets that he has seen, it is clear to Guiao that Ravena was quick to prove himself worthy of signing as an Asian import for Shiga.
"I have not watched a full game ni Kiefer, but I can see the clips, and makikita mo talaga 'yung ano, 'yung role niya doon sa team niya. He's becoming a key player, he's becoming a lynchpin in their rotation," he said.
This is why, as proud as he is of Ravena, Guiao has some reason to be nervous.
"Baka matagalan bago makabalik si Kiefer. 'Yun ang nakaka-nerbiyos eh," he quipped.
Ravena's deal with the PBA and with NLEX is for him to finish the Lakestars' campaign in Japan, and then return to play in the PBA where the Road Warriors continue to hold his rights. Failure to do so may result in him getting banned from the league.
Guiao has no doubt that Ravena will be true to his word, but he also acknowledges that at the moment there's no assurance that their top guard will be back in time for the next PBA conference.
"Committed siyang bumalik," he said. "Ang tanong, kung kailan."
The PBA is planning to hold a second conference in November, this time with imports in the fold. Meanwhile, the B.League season will run until May 2022.