Japan B. League

Japan B. League report card: Filipino imports earn wins to close out 2021

Ariel Ian Clarito
Japan B. League report card: Filipino imports earn wins to close out 2021

SCORING TEAR. Kiefer Ravena cools down after erupting for at least 20 points int three straight games.

JAPAN B. LEAGUE

Kiefer Ravena and the Shiga Lakestars recover by wining three of their last five games, while a sizzling Ray Parks sees a major upswing in his playing time as Nagoya stays on a roll

MANILA, Philippines – The Filipino imports and their respective squads scrambled to pick up wins in the last three playdates for 2021. 

A lot can still change in the race for the playoffs considering that each team in the Japan B. League plays 60 regular season games. A team which could string together a couple of wins, especially against opposition with winning records, could still find themselves back in contention.

Five out of the six Filipino imports in Division 1 chalked up at least a win in the last three playdates. This should give their teams something to build on in the coming year. 

Ravena’s Shiga, Ramos’ Toyama show signs of life

Things looked bleak for Kiefer Ravena and the Shiga Lakestars as they lost 11 consecutive games and found themselves sinking deeper down the bottom of the team standings. A win over the Yokohama B-Corsairs last December 18 eventually ceased the Lakestars’ skid. 

The Lakestars seemed to have awakened from their stupor as they notched two wins against the Niigata Albirex over the weekend, 78-59 and 90-77. These twin triumphs somehow cushioned the defeat they suffered on the last playing day of 2021 to the Hiroshima Dragonflies, 67-92.  

Ravena cooled down after his explosion the previous week which saw him score at least 20 points in each of the three games he played. 

The Phenom averaged just 6 points in Shiga’s two wins and one loss outing this past week. He did, however, still dish out 5.6 assists. Ravena remains one of the top assists men in the B. League.

The Shiga Lakestars have won three of their last five games to improve their record to 9-15.

Dwight Ramos and the Toyama Grouses, meanwhile, have an 8-16 record and stand a game behind the Shiga Lakestars. 

The Grouses also registered a huge win on Christmas day versus the Gunma Crane Thunders, 89-77. Just when the thought they had Gunma’s numbers, the Grouses fell the next day to the Crane Thunders, 90-95. 

On Wednesday, the Grouses ran into the defending champions Chiba Jets and suffered a 64-105 trashing. 

Ramos has been unable to find his stroke recently as he has not scored in double figures in his last four games. He averaged just 3.6 points on a horrendous 16.9% shooting from the field in their games against Gunma and Chiba.

All eight of Toyama’s victories have come against teams with losing records. 

Parks’ Nagoya proves legitimacy

If the B. League’s regular season ended on Wednesday, December 29, the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins would have made the playoffs with plenty to spare. 

Ray Parks and his squad swept their last eight games for the year, including the last three against Kyoto and Osaka. They toyed with the Kyoto Hannaryz last Saturday, 84-53, and pulled away from them in the fourth quarter after a close first half on Sunday, 87-73. They closed out their 2021 schedule with a W over the Osaka Evessa.

Parks has seen a major upswing in his playing time as of late. In Nagoya’s last six games, Parks has been on the floor an average of 28 minutes, the longest among all Nagoya players. 

In his squad’s win on Sunday, Parks once again displayed his all-around prowess with 12 points on 50% shooting from the field, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. He followed it up on Wednesday with another 12-point production in their 108-84 domination of Osaka. Parks has also normed 2 steals per outing the past three games. 

The Diamond Dolphins’ record of 17 wins and 7 losses ties them with the Shimane Susanoo Magic for second place in the West. 

Thirdy’s San-En, Javi’s Ibaraki escape the cellar

Thirdy Ravena and the San-En NeoPhoenix finally picked up their first win since October 24 when they won on Sunday over the Seahorses Mikawa, 88-80. This was a huge win for San-En considering that Mikawa was a top 10 team, and just the previous day, the NeoPhoenix lost badly to the Seahorses, 69-97. 

The NeoPhoenix ended 2021 with a 69-101 drubbing at the hands of the league-leading Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Ravena was a picture of consistency in San-En’s last three games as he scored in double figures in each of those games. He posted averages of 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.3 steals.

Javi Gomez De Liaño and the Ibaraki Robots also finally earned back-to-back victories by defeating the Shinshu Brave Warriors over the weekend, 79-67 and 84-77. 

The Robots, though, had the misfortune of facing for their last game of the year the Kawasaki Brave Thunders, who are running third overall. Ibaraki got blasted off the court by the Brave Thunders, 65-104.

Gomez De Liaño played minimal minutes (11.2) in each of the three games of Ibaraki. He went scoreless and reboundless in their last two games. 

More misfortunes, though, hit Kobe Paras and the Niigata Albirex BB as they closed out the year with a 75-86 setback against the Yokohama B-Corsairs for their 21st straight loss.

Paras’ struggles continued, virtually placing him out of the rotation of the league’s worst team (2-22) after a fiery start to the season. – Rappler.com