KIEFER Ravena will always be missed by NLEX, but the Road Warriors have gotten used to not having one of their top players around that his latest caper to re-sign with the Shiga Lakes is no longer a cause for concern.
Coach Yeng Guiao said the team has already prepared for the inevitable that he admitted the Road Warriors are "ready to move on."
“At least now we can move on, parang tanggap na namin,” said Guiao about not having Ravena for the seasons to come after renewing his contract with the Japanese club in the B.League.
“It’s a case scenario na pinag-handaan namin,” Guiao added. “Psychologically, me personally, I’m prepared to accept that.”
See: Japan B. League side Shiga Lakes sign Kiefer Ravena to new deal
Ravena has not played for NLEX for two-and-a-half conferences since leaving for the B. League midway in the Philippine Cup bubble in Bacolor, Pampanga last year.
The 28-year-old guard initially said he will just try to get a feel of how to play overseas for just a year and said he’s coming back to NLEX once his contract expires.
He did come back, but only intended to play for a single conference with the Road Warriors.
NLEX management countered a one-season offer since originally, that was the gentlemen’s agreement between the two parties and eventually, led to the Road Warriors allowing Ravena to go overseas and rescind an existing contract with the team which still has two years to go.
But SPIN.ph sources disclosed Ravena might already have a verbal agreement with Shiga prior to returning home, reason why he’s insisting to just play for the Road Warriors for just one conference in the Philippine Cup with the obvious intent of going back to the B.League afterwards.
No deal was reached between the two sides, and true enough, Shiga announced the signing of Ravena for the coming B.League season just this week.
Guiao obviously read the play long in advance that he began to bring in the pieces which he thought are good enough to fill in the shoes of their former no. 2 rookie pick.
“Yung kay Calvin (Oftana), Don Trollano, sina Kevin (Alas), sina Justin Chua, all of those guys are trying to fill up whatever scoring void that has been left in the absence of Kiefer,” he said.
“We can now move on and we can focus on improving Kris Rosales, improving Matt Nieto. All of these are going to cover up the void Kiefer is going to create.”
NLEX actually made the playoffs in the last three conferences Ravena was not with the team, including a semifinals stint in the last Governors Cup where the Road Warriors lost to eventual champion Barangay Ginebra.
In the ongoing Philippine Cup, the team just fell a victory short of another semis stint, but went down in overtime against the Magnolia Hotshots in the deciding game of their quarterfinals series.
Still, Guiao and the Road Warriors are very understanding of Ravena’s case.
“We still wish he could have played for us. Subok naman na si Kiefer sa laban, nanghihinayang din naman kami,” said the NLEX mentor.
Proof that Ravena remains within the graces of the team is the fact that he’s still in the Viber group of the Road Warriors.
“We are still in constantly in touch with Kiefer and we treat him still as part of the team. Nasa group chat pa rin namin siya. Pag nagkakalokohan sa group chat, nakikiloko siya. So we still feel na he’s part of the team even if he’s playing in Japan,” said Guiao.
“And he also makes it a point on purpose na ayaw niyang alisin yung sarili niya doon sa circulation within the team.”
In certain occasions, Ravena would send videos of Shiga’s plays and discuss it with Guiao.
But most of the time, the two-time UAAP MVP out of Ateneo would try to catch up with some of the Road Warriors and talk to them regarding their development both as a player and their careers.
“He mentors the other players even from a distance. Kinakausap niya si Kevin, kinakausap niya si Matt,” said Guiao. “Kahit si Calvin kinakausap niya yan, parang ano niya yan protégé niya.”
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