MANILA, Philippines – Kiefer Ravena and the Shiga Lakestars marked their return in the Japan B. League with a huge victory, taking down the San-En NeoPhoenix, 104-100, on Saturday, February 26.
After being idle for nearly two months due to COVID-19 postponements, Ravena filled up the stat sheet for the Lakestars, tallying 9 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals off the bench.
The former NLEX Road Warrior, however, struggled mightily from the field as he missed all of his three shots from the two-point area, while also going 1-of-7 from three-point land.
With the win, the Lakestars moved up to 10-17, while the NeoPhoenix, whose Asian import Thirdy Ravena is currently with Gilas Pilipinas for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, remained at the bottom of the pack with a 4-28 slate.
Shiga, which last played on January 3, showed some signs of rust early on as San-En quickly raced to a 9-point lead, 13-4, midway through the first quarter.
Luckily for the Lakestars, they managed to shake off their slow start, outscoring the NeoPhoenix in the second canto, 34-22, for a 58-54 lead at halftime.
Ravena quickly made his presence felt in the opening half, dishing out 7 of his team-high 10 assists, together with 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal in 13 minutes.
In the third period, Shiga kept up the pace against San-En, extending its 4-point halftime lead to as many as 15 points, 80-65, with 4 minutes to play in the quarter.
A fiery run by the NeoPhoenix in the opening minutes of the final frame, however, gave their side back the lead, 93-92, before the Lakestars countered with a 5-point swing to snatch the lead back, 97-93, with only 2 minutes remaining on the clock.
With Shiga still leading by 4, 100-96, with less than a minute left, San-En’s Elias Harris converted on a three-pointer to cut the lead to just a single point, 100-99.
Unfortunately for San-En, time was just not on its side as Shiga’s Sean O’mara and Novar Gadson sealed the deal in the following possessions with four straight free throws.
O’mara erupted for 37 points for the Lakestars, to go along with 19 rebounds, while Gadson added 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Harris led the way for the NeoPhoenix with 29 points, while Robert Carter stepped up in Thirdy’s absence with 14 markers and 9 boards.
The Lakestars and the NeoPhoenix lock horns once again on Sunday, February 27, at 1:05 pm, Manila time.
Shiga 104 – O’mara 37, Gadson 27, Kashiwagura 14, Hayashi 13, Ravena 9, Shibuta 4, Nomoto 0, Ozawa 0, Imagawa 0, Moriyama 0.
San-En 100 – Harris 29, Carter 14, Tsuya 12, Tsuyama 12, Tawatari 10, Yamauchi 8, Matsuwaki 7, Sugiura 3, Okada 3, Tsuneta 2, Ota 0, Hanzawa 0.
Quarters: 24-32, 58-54, 84-75, 104-100.