Almost complete, but not quite yet.
The historic nine-man Filipino delegation in the Japan B. League was set to all see action on Saturday, October 23, with three players set for their pro debuts, including Aomori Wat’s beanpole Kemark Cariño and Fil-Japanese recruit Matt Aquino of the Shinshu Brave Warriors.
Unfortunately, Ibaraki Robots’ import Javi Gomez de Liaño was pulled out of the rotation a few days fresh out of mandatory quarantine due to reasons set to be revealed on game day.
Although Thirdy Ravena and the San-en NeoPhoenix lost the chance to visit Ibaraki to face another Filipino foe, the rest of the contingent is still all set for another jam-packed day of basketball.
Kiefer Ravena vs Ray Parks | Shiga Lakestars vs Nagoya Diamond Dolphins
The first Japan B. League dream match between Ray Parks Jr. and Kiefer Ravena turned ugly early as the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins home team annihilated the Shiga Lakestars, 107-68, on Saturday, October 23.
Parks continued his steady rise as he reset his career-high with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting with 4 rebounds and 4 assists in his first game as a starter.
On the other hand, Ravena hit rock bottom with just 5 points on a brutal 1-of-13 clip to go with 3 dimes, 3 steals, and 2 boards.
Read the full story here.
Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. have crossed paths in multiple leagues since ending their illustrious collegiate careers, and on Saturday, 2:05 pm, they once again meet as foes fine-tuning their roles on new teams.
Ravena, who last played for the PBA’s NLEX Road Warriors, now aims to find the balance between scoring and facilitating for Shiga (5-1), and will turn his attention to his old friend Parks, who has been on a mini scoring tear for Nagoya (3-3)recently since leaving the TNT Tropang Giga.
At this point, one man can no longer surprise the other after so many on-court wars waged over the years. What matters is how far along they are in integrating with their new squads as another chapter in their storied rivalry unfolds.
Thirdy Ravena | San-En NeoPhoenix vs Ibaraki Robots
Thirdy Ravena and the San-En NeoPhoenix absorbed their third straight loss in the Japan B. League after falling to the erstwhile winless Ibaraki Robots, 95-79, on Saturday, October 23, at the Kamisu Disaster Prevention Arena.
Ravena, who struggled in San-En’s previous two outings, finally broke out of his offensive slump and finished with 14 points on an efficient 6-of-10 shooting, to go with 3 assists and 2 rebounds, but these numbers were not enough as San-En moved down to 2-5 in the standings.
Read the full story here.
Although he just lost the chance to go up against an old college foe, Pinoy pioneer Thirdy Ravena will still be all business as San-En (2-4) seeks to end a two-game skid against the winless Ibaraki (0-6) home team at 1:05 pm.
The three-time UAAP Finals MVP has hit a bit of a shooting funk recently, as he was held to just 7 and 12 points in his last two losses, both on sub-40% shooting.
Ravena will always provide the peripheral stats on any given day, but he has to find the scoring touch he had in the last few games in order for the NeoPhoenix to avoid any upset losses this weekend against the win-hungry Robots.
Kobe Paras | Niigata Albirex BB vs Seahorses Mikawa
The Seahorses Mikawa handed Kobe Paras and the Niigata Albirex BB their fifth straight loss after a 77-75 escape in the Japan B. League on Saturday, October 23 at the Niigata Higashi General Sports Center.
Import Davante Gardner sank the game-winning hook shot for the Seahorses with 1 second remaining to come away with the win as they completed a weekend sweep of Paras and the Albirex BB.
Read the full story here.
Unlike the rest of his peers this weekend, Kobe Paras already got a head start after playing in a rare Friday, October 22 home game against the Seahorses.
However, this small schedule adjustment matters little to the Albirex (2-5) after they failed to end their losing skid, now running at four straight, as Mikawa (5-2) handed them an 81-58 beatdown, where Paras was clamped down to just 6 points.
Just as the second-generation star is known to go cold at certain points, he is also feared for incredible scoring spurts, and Niigata will look to help Paras get that groove again in a Saturday, 4:05 pm rematch.
Dwight Ramos | Toyama Grouses vs Ryukyu Golden Kings
The Toyama Grouses fell short once again in their quest for a breakthrough win as the Ryukyu Golden Kings ran away in the clutch with a 95-88 win.
Gilas Pilipinas hotshot Dwight Ramos reset his B. League career-high with 16 points, 9 in the third quarter alone, on 5-of-11 shooting, but was held scoreless in the crucial final frame.
The winless Grouses’ search for their first win continues early Sunday afternoon, 12:05 pm.
Read the full story here.
Dwight Ramos will continue his integration with the winless Grouses (0-6) as they take on perennial powerhouse Ryukyu (4-2) at 5:05 pm.
After coming off mandatory quarantine, Ramos fast-tracked his involvement last weekend, but came up short in his first two games as he fired numerous blanks against Parks and the visiting Nagoya.
But given what many Filipino fans have seen from his all-around game in his Gilas stint so far, it is only a matter of time before the Fil-Am sensation settles down to his role, and starts his rise to B. League stardom.
Juan Gomez de Liaño | Earthfriends Tokyo Z vs Fighting Eagles Nagoya
Juan Gomez de Liaño and the Earthfriends Tokyo Z remained winless in seven games after falling to the No. 1 Fighting Eagles Nagoya, 71-56, in Division 2 of the Japan B. League on Saturday, October 23 at the Ota Gymnasium.
Gomez de Liaño, who fouled out midway through the final frame with the Earthfriends trailing by only 8 markers, finished with 8 points on 3-of-7 shooting to go with 2 assists in 12 minutes of action in the losing effort.
The Earthfriends will look to bounce back and finally get on the win column on Sunday, October 24 when they clash once again with the powerhouse Fighting Eagles.
It has been a rough ride so far for Gilas Pilipinas prospect Juan Gomez de Liaño in the B. League Division 2.
After six straight losses to start the new season, the Earthfriends Tokyo Z (0-6) have yet to find a consistent role for the former UAAP Mythical Team member, and as a result, Gomez de Liaño has been left scraping for playing time, to unsatisfactory results.
He and the Earthfriends will have another tall task ahead of them as they start the Saturday marathon with a match against the undisputed top-ranked Fighting Eagles Nagoya (5-1) at 12:05 pm, Manila time.
Matthew Aquino | Shinshu Brave Warriors vs Osaka Evessa
The Shinshu Brave Warriors used a balanced attack to earn a tough 85-82 win against the Osaka Evessa.
However, Fil-Japanese big man Matthew Aquino did not take part in Saturday’s rally as he was nailed to the bench all game long.
The second-generation giant will get another shot to have his pro debut on Sunday, 3:05 pm.
In somewhat of a sudden development, former National University big man Matt Aquino, son of the legendary Marlou, made headlines after signing as a local with the Shinshu Brave Warriors (2-4) thanks to Japanese heritage from his mother’s side.
However, fans should temper expectations of the 6-foot-9 beanpole, as he is currently a work in progress after averaging just 3.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in about 13 minutes per game in his last foray with the MPBL’s Bacoor Strikers, playing alongside his father.
Now ready to be his own man in Japan, the 25-year-old second-generation center can go nowhere but up as he hones his craft with more than 50 games left with the Brave Warriors (3-3) starting at 3:05 pm.
Kemark Cariño | Aomori Wat’s vs Kagawa Five Arrows
Kemark Cariño made his B. League debut in losing fashion as the Kagawa Five Arrows escaped the Aomori Wat’s , 88-83.
The former San Beda Red Lion and current Gilas Pilipinas project finished with 2 rebounds in 8 minutes off the bench, and will try to get more playing time in the Sunday rematch at 1pm.
After months of radio silence since his signing in July, Gilas project big man Kemark Cariño has finally resurfaced in Japan ready to suit up for the Wat’s (pronounced as wat-SUH for those wondering about the apostrophe).
Like Shinshu’s Aquino, the 6-foot-8 Cariño is as raw as they come, but obviously with high enough upside to warrant an Asian import quota slot.
A product of the San Beda Red Lions dynasty in the NCAA, the lanky 23-year-old is expected to do the dirty work like crashing boards and swatting shots whenever he’s on the floor. Putback layups and any sliver of an offensive repertoire will also go a long way.
The Wat’s (1-5) clash with the Kagawa Five Arrows (4-2) at 5 pm.