Slowly but surely, the Philippine import delegation playing in the Japan B. League is getting bigger, as former PBA star Bobby Ray Parks Jr. finally made his debut for the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins on Saturday, October 9, following a minor muscle injury.
Along with Parks, Juan Gomez de Liaño, Kobe Paras, and brothers Thirdy and Kiefer Ravena continued their integration with their respective teams as they move along the league’s huge 60-game season.
Gilas Pilipinas prospects Dwight Ramos, Kemark Cariño, and Javi Gomez de Liaño are also expected to end their mandatory quarantine soon, but for now, the focus is entirely on their five compatriots gearing up for their Sunday, October 10 rematches.
Thirdy Ravena and Kobe Paras | San-En NeoPhoenix vs Niigata Albirex BB
Thirdy Ravena had the last laugh against his best friend Kobe Paras as the San-En NeoPhoenix exacted revenge over the Niigata Albirex BB with a thrilling 85-82 win.
After feeling the brunt of a 13-point loss, 64-77, last Saturday, Ravena held down his own turf, and finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assist, 1 steal and 1 block.
On the other hand, Paras got clamped after a 21-point outing on Saturday, and tallied just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting with 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
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Following up on a thrilling weekend mini-series between the Ravena brothers, the second Pinoy import head-to-head matchup delivered just as well after Kobe Paras and the Niigata Albirex BB downed Thirdy Ravena and the San-En NeoPhoenix home team by 13, 77-64.
Paras showed his best friend and former college rival his all-around improvement after dropping 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks on 4-of-10 shooting from three in the easy win.
Ravena, who led his team with 16 markers, 4 dimes, 2 boards and 2 steals, will look to do even more in the Sunday rematch at 1:05 pm as the NeoPhoenix avoid a weekend sweep on their own turf.
Kiefer Ravena | Shiga Lakestars vs Ibaraki Robots
Kiefer Ravena and the Shiga Lakestars captured their second straight win this weekend after taking down the Ibaraki Robots, 85-77, in the Japan B. League on Sunday, October 10 at the Ukaruchan Arena.
After finishing with 13 points on Saturday, Ravena continued his stellar all-around play for Shiga as he tallied 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, 7 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals in 22 minutes of action as they improved to 3-1 in the standings.
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Even though the Ibaraki Robots did not yet have Javi Gomez de Liaño, they took the fight to Kiefer Ravena and the Shiga Lakestars, who had to squeeze out a 93-88 comeback win.
Backstopping international imports Ovie Soko and Novar Gadson who finished with 37 and 23 points, respectively, Ravena stayed within his role for a modest line of 13 markers, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals on a 5-of-8 clip.
The Lakestars will likely look for more aggressiveness from the current PBA star in Sunday’s rematch at 1:35 pm, but as Saturday’s game showed, Ravena can adapt to any role as long as it brings his team the all-important win.
Bobby Ray Parks Jr. | Nagoya Diamond Dolphins vs Hiroshima Dragonflies
The Nagoya Diamond Dolphins finally broke through with their first win in four games after outlasting the Hiroshima Dragonflies, 87-77.
However, they did the job without much help again from Pinoy star Bobby Ray Parks Jr., who recorded just 1 point, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in just 11 minutes. In his league debut on Saturday, he also had a quiet 2-point, 3-board, 3-assist day in 13 minutes.
But this may be just due to lingering effects of an unspecified muscle injury, which caused him to miss the league’s opening weekend last October 2 and 3.
For a man who has had a handful of injuries in his last foray with professional basketball, Parks expectedly took it easy on himself in his first-ever B. League game, and finished with just 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in 13 minutes en route to a 90-98 loss against the Hiroshima Dragonflies.
While this outing is a far, far cry from the superstar-level play fans are used to seeing from him in the PBA, the 28-year-old combo guard is definitely bound for better numbers as the season moves on.
Nagoya may need those statsheet-stuffing numbers sooner rather than later though, as it has yet to win its first game in three tries heading to its Sunday rematch against Hiroshima at 2:05 pm.
Juan Gomez de Liaño | Earthfriends Tokyo Z vs Yamagata Wyverns
The Yamagata Wyverns completed their weekend sweep over Juan Gomez de Liaño and the Earthfriends Tokyo Z with an 84-55 blowout on Sunday, one day after an 81-51 demolition.
Despite the sorry loss, the Pinoy star prospect Gomez de Liaño bounced back well from a one-minute game on Saturday, by resetting his B. League career-highs of 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from downtown in 19 minutes off the bench.
Just as it looked like Juan Gomez de Liaño had found a path to rising minutes, he is suddenly back to square one after playing just a minute and a half in the Yamagata Wyverns’ 81-51 demolition of Earthfriends Tokyo Z.
Most Filipino fans know exactly what the 21-year-old can bring to the table for any team, but he simply just can’t deliver if he’s nailed to the bench like he is right now.
Hopefully, Gomez de Liaño can turn heads and produce once again the moment he gets a true chance to prove himself, which may happen as early as Sunday at 3 pm given how lopsided Saturday’s loss was.