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    Kiefer Ravena dilemma brings back memories of Japeth holdout

    Jun 3, 2021
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

    AS Kiefer Ravena finds himself in the middle of an uncomfortable tug-of-war between the NLEX Road Warriors of the PBA and the Shiga Lakestars of the Japan B.League, basketball history will show such situations usually do not get resolved quickly.

    The charismatic point guard needs not to look further as he could learn from the path his Gilas Pilipinas teammate Japeth Aguilar took more than a decade ago.

    It will be remembered that the 6-foot-9 high-flyer found himself in a bind when Burger King made him the No. 1 selection in the 2009 PBA draft, only to have a change of heart days later and express his desire to play for the Smart Gilas national team.

    The situation was truly an unprecedented one, with the Whoppers, then coached by Yeng Guiao, stunned to learn that the promising beanpole from US NCAA side Western Kentucky prefered to join the all-amateur national team under Rajko Toroman.

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    Burger King team manager Lito Alvarez was so incensed that a lifetime ban was even floated as a possible repercussion of Aguilar's actions.

    But by then, Japeth's decision was firm.


    What followed was an awkward two months, but a settlement was eventually reached days before the start of the PBA season when then-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan and executive director Noli Eala intervened.

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    An agreement was reached for Aguilar to sign a one-year contract with the Whoppers and play one game for the team - a 93-80 defeat to Purefoods on Oct. 12, 2009 where the forward had 10 points, nine rebounds, and a block in 24 minutes of play - before he was soon shipped to Talk 'N Text.

    The MVP-owned team then loaned Aguilar to the Gilas program for the 2011 Fiba Asia Championship in Wuhan, which served as a qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics.

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    It was this deal which also allowed Aguilar to explore his options overseas, receiving an invitation to work out with an NBA team that led to him being drafted by the Santa Cruz Warriors in the seventh round of the 2012 NBA D-League Draft.


      After surviving two cuts, he was soon waived by Santa Cruz and returned to the PBA to play for TNT, where he even became a part of the Tropang Texters' 2012 Philippine Cup champion team.

      In comparison, Ravena's situation is more complicated since it triggered a tug-of-war between two club teams in different countries.

      Yet insiders see a possible solution: a loan.

      Shiga can acquire Ravena from NLEX on loan by paying a specific amount to the Road Warriors to pave the way for Kiefer to join younger brother Thirdy in Japan as only the second Filipino to play in the B.League.

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      Doing so will enable the Lakestars to gain the PBA and Fiba clearance for Ravena, while assuring the Road Warriors of the rights to the player at the end of the Shiga contract.

      These ideas maybe foreign for most basketball fans, but not for football followers who routine hear about players being loaned to other clubs for a specific amount of money while retaining the player's rights.

      A contract buyout is also an option, although it's highly unlikely that the Road Warriors will agree to such scenario as doing so means they will relinquish the signing rights to Ravena.

      Under such a scenario, the 6-foot Ravena will become a free agent and therefore can sign with any of the other 11 teams once he decides to return to the PBA - a scenario NLEX definitely dreads.


        The key is for all sides to sit down and talk.

        If Kiefer can somehow convince his mother ballclub NLEX to give him the green light and the PBA to clear the release, he can get the rare oportunity of playing as an Asian import in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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        As the old adage goes, walang di maaayos sa mabuting usapan.

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        PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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