After a positive start to their Japan B. League seasons, both Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena have hit a losing slump with their respective teams as both the Shiga Lakestars and the San-En NeoPhoenix collapsed in the clutch on Wednesday, November 10.
The stretch has been especially heartbreaking for the elder Kiefer, who was recently named the Shiga Monthly MVP, as the Lakestars lost their only home game for the month, and their fourth straight overall, against the Shimane Susanoo Magic, 102-94.
With the loss, the Lakestars are now at an even 6-6 record after a 6-2 start, while the Magic rose to 9-3, thanks to the heroics of former PBA import and Japanese national team player Seiya Ando.
Kiefer looked on the verge of steering a Lakestars comeback after two free throws inched them within four, 90-94, with 3:06 left in regulation.
However, Ando almost instantly snatched the game away from Shiga’s grasp with consecutive cold-blooded triples at the 2:38 and 2:04 marks of the final frame to turn a four-point lead into 10, 100-90. He finished with 17 points and a game-high 12 assists.
From that point, all Shimane had to do was play the clock en route to the 102-94 finish, capped by a meaningless dunk from Shiga import Sean O’mara.
Top Magic import Reid Travis led the winning charge with a monster 35-point, 18-rebound double-double, while fellow reinforcement Nick Kay flirted with a triple-double off 14 markers, 10 boards, and 7 dimes.
Kiefer finished with 14 points and 6 assists in the loss after erupting for 27 markers in the previous game, while import Ovie Soko churned out a 20-point, 14-board double-double, albeit with 8 turnovers.
The Lakestars will look to get back to their winning ways next weekend in a back-to-back slate against the Shinshu Brave Warriors.
Speaking of the Brave Warriors, they emerged as victorious visitors from a different corner of Japan as they downed Thirdy and San-En, 92-79.
With the win, the league powerhouse boosted their record to 9-3, while sending the skidding NeoPhoenix to their fourth straight loss for a 3-9 slate.
Thirdy filled the statsheet with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block, but no international import from San-En even breached double-digit scoring as local guard Shota Tsuyama led the loss with 17 markers in just 13 minutes off the bench.
Shinshu import Josh Hawkinson erupted for 28 points in as many minutes off the bench, and was responsible for capping a massive 17-2 start in the first quarter for their biggest lead of the game.
Although San-En fought back to tie things up, 64-all, with 8:49 left in the fourth quarter, Hawkinson again led another huge 18-4 spurt to effectively put away the game for good with an 82-68 lead at the midway mark of the frame.
A shell-shocked NeoPhoenix side failed to change the course of the endgame as Shinshu eventually went back to square one with another 15-point lead, 92-77, in the waning seconds of the fourth.
Despite the big lead in the final minutes, Warriors head coach Michael Katshuhisa opted to stick to his normal rotation, and thus, Fil-Japanese big man Matt Aquino ended up watching another full game from the sidelines.
The NeoPhoenix return next weekend with a blockbuster back-to-back slate as Thirdy faces fellow Gilas Pilipinas prospect Dwight Ramos and the Toyama Grouses. – Rappler.com