Japan B. League

Report card: Ravenas, Paras, among B. League stat leaders

Ariel Ian Clarito
Report card: Ravenas, Paras, among B. League stat leaders

BROTHERS. Thirdy Ravena (left) and Kiefer Ravena continue to impress in the Japan B. League.

Japan B. League

Filipino imports Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, and Kobe Paras step up for their respective Japan B. League teams

Two weeks into the Japan B. League season and three Filipino imports have put on impressive individual performances. They, in fact, figure prominently among the statistical leaders in different categories as they helped their squads notch victories.

Kiefer Ravena may not have lit up the scoreboard, but he has been instrumental in the Shiga Lakestars’ early success this season. 

The Lakestars are tied with the Shimane Susanoo Magic, Hiroshima Dragonflies, and the Ryukyu Golden Kings for the top spot in the West of the B. League Division I with three wins in their first four games. Last season saw the Lakestars lose their first three games before earning win No. 1 in their fourth outing. 

Shiga coach Luis Guil Torres has put the ball on Ravena’s hands in the clutch and “The Phenom” has repeatedly shown he would make the right decisions when the game is on the line. 

Ravena is scoring 13.8 points built on an efficient 50% shooting from the field and 40% shooting from three. His 88% clip from the free throw line ties him at 11th among the leaders in accuracy from the penalty stripe.

He did not need to score much since the Lakestars boast of one of the most prolific import triumvirates in the entire B. League. British reinforcement Ovie Soko leads the Lakestars with 20.2 points, seventh overall in the league. Argentine Novar Gadson is norming 16.2 points, while 6-foot-10 American center Sean O’Mara is chipping in 15 points per ballgame.

It is in the other aspects of the game that Ravena has had the biggest impact. He is dishing out 6.8 dimes, placing him at third among the assist leaders. He trails only Tatsuo Suzuki of the Kyoto Hannryz, who leads all players with 7.5 per game, and former B. League MVP Yuki Togashi of the Chiba Jets, who is norming 7 assists. 

Ravena and teammate Teppei Kashiwagura have been a pesky backcourt duo as they both are among the top thieves in the league. Kashiwagura is fourth among all players with 2.2 steals while Ravena is tied for fifth with three other players with 2 steals a game. 

Kobe Paras has been let loose by coach Fujitaka Hiraoko of the Niigata Albirex and this has allowed the second-generation star to display his full offensive arsenal. Paras has combined with Hungarian import Rosco Allen in carrying the scoring cudgels for Niigata and leading it to a 2-2 record.

Paras is averaging 16.8 points in his first foray in the professional ranks, second only in their squad to Allen, who is fifth in the league with his average of 20.5 points. Paras ranks 24th among the scoring leaders in the entire B. League. He is also the second highest scoring Asian, next only to Togashi, who is dropping 21.8 points per game.

Niigata relies so much on Paras that he is on the floor 30.3 minutes a game, longer than its other imports: 6-foot-10 NBA veteran Jeff Ayres and 6-foot-10 South African Tshilidzi Nephawe. Paras is 20th in the B. League in playing time, indicative of the trust bestowed on him by Hiraoka.

Like Paras, Thirdy Ravena also gets the second-longest floor time for his squad, the San-en NeoPhoenix. Last season, the younger Ravena played an average of 22.7 minutes per outing. This season, coach Branislac Vicentic has upped his minutes to 29.4 per game, the 29th-longest playing time in all of the B. League. Only German import Elias Harris plays longer for San-en at 31.2 minutes per game. 

The increase in playing time has also led to an improvement for Ravena in different statistical categories. His scoring is up from 9.1 points last year to 15.2 a game this season, 34th overall in the B. League. Ravena is also in the top 30 in steals with 1.5 a game as he has proven to be a vital cog in helping the NeoPhoenix register a 2-2 record.

Ravena is grabbing 5.8 rebounds a game. He is tied with former PBA import Allen Durham of the Ryukyu Golden Kings and Japanese-American Avi Schafer of the Aishin Sea Horses at 47th overall in the rebounding department.

What makes this feat impressive is that among 52 players in the B. League who are averaging at least 5.5 boards a game, Ravena is one of only two players listed below 6-foot-5. The other one is 6-foot-4 import OJ Newbill of the Osaka Evessa, who plucks 7 rebounds per outing. Ravena is also just one of three Asians among the top 52 rebounders in the league. The other two are the 6-foot-8 Schafer and long-time Japan national team center, 6-foot-9 Joji Takeuchi, who averages 5.5 rebounds for Osaka.

Shiga, Niigata, and San-en are all off to better starts this season compared to last year. The three teams will need their Filipino imports to sustain their high level of play to give their clubs a chance to contend for the playoffs this season. – Rappler.com