MANILA, Philippines – It was a productive weekend for most of the Philippine Japan B. League imports, as their individual brilliance shone in the two games they each played.
Only two of them, however, came out unscathed from the weekend.
Dwight is MVP: Most Valuable Pinoy
There was a streak in last Sunday’s game between the Toyama Grouses and the Shiga Lakestars when Kiefer Ravena was on a breakaway after picking the pocket of Dwight Ramos. Just as the Phenom flew off for what looked like a secure pairing, Ramos swooped in from behind to block Ravena’s layup. That, in a nutshell, characterizes the big rebound from Ramos and the Grouses this weekend.
Toyama had just suffered two losses the week before against the league-leading Ryukyu Golden Kings. They made up for these two losses by defeating the skidding Shiga Lakestars twice.
Keijuro Matsui and Ramos more than made up for the absence of import Joshua Smith, who missed both games against the Lakestars.
The two former NCAA Division 1 wingers of the United States lit him up on the field as Matsui had three trebles to finish with 16 points while Ramos lost 18 points. The Filipino star also shot 63.6% from the field, a remarkable improvement from the previous week when he had only managed 30% of his attempts in two games.
The Grouses fought off a late Lakestars push to escape with a 107-102 win on Saturday. The next day the Lakestars staged a late-game rally again, but the Grouses held on for another win, 95-90.
Matsui led Toyama with 19 points, but it was Ramos’ complete magic that made the difference as the Gilas mainstay finished with a near triple-double of 14 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Toyama Grouses are now 6-12 after losing their first eight games. None of their wins, however, have been against a team with a winning record.
Ramos and the Grouses have a chance to show they can stay with the top teams as they face the Shinshu Brave Warriors on Wednesday, and Ray Parks and the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in back-to-back games this coming weekend.
The parks go perfectly from the city center
If it hadn’t been for Nagoya’s huge 91-58 victory over the Kyoto Hannaryz where he barely transpired in Saturday’s 14 minutes of action and produced just 5 points, Ray Parks would have at least equaled Ramos as last weekend’s most valuable Pinoys.
Parks played what is perhaps a Filipino’s most impressive offensive display in the B League on Sunday.
The former ABL MVP was impeccable beyond the arc as he failed all six attempts from the three-point distance to end up with 20 points. He shot an impressive 85.7% from the field and also delivered 4 assists despite only being on the ground for 20 minutes. The Diamond Dolphins were ruthless in defeating the topped Hannaryz 93-48.
This is the fourth time this season that Parks has scored 20 or more points in a baseball game. It is also the fifth time that he has led his team in the scorers’ standings.
At 11-7, the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins are now fourth in the standings in the West, just one game behind the Seahorses Mikawa and Shimane Susanoo Magic. Nagoya and Mikawa meet on Wednesday, with the winner taking at least a tie for second in the West.
Ravenas’ good performance is not enough
Kiefer Ravena and the Shiga Lakestars suffered their 10th straight loss last weekend. The last time the Lakestars tasted victory was October 24 against the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins.
The Phenom was stable in the two losses to the Toyama Grouses as they sparked end-of-game rallies that just weren’t enough to turn the tide for the Lakestars.
Ravena scored 8 points last Saturday, but delivered 9 assists and stole twice in 23 minutes of floor time.
He followed with 13 points increased by two triples plus five cents in another loss to Shiga on Sunday.
The Shiga Lakestars are 6-12. Their next three games will pit record-breaking teams Osaka Evessa and Yokohama B-Corsairs against each other, which could be an opportunity for the Lakestars to get back on their way to victory.
Third Ravena, meanwhile, shed rust from his two-game suspension and delivered numbers that match the course of the Philippine top scorer in Japan’s B League.
His production, however, was deemed insufficient as the San-En NeoPhoenix kept pace but were unable to topple defending champions Chiba Jets.
Young Ravena filled the stat sheet with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists as San-En fell to Chiba last Saturday, 89-101. He continued his performance with 12 points the next day as the NeoPhoenix collapsed again amid Chiba’s superior firepower, 80-87.
The NeoPhoenix have only three wins in 18 games. Coincidentally, Thirdy’s last League B victory also came on October 24.
No end in sight for Kobe’s woes
It feels like Niigata Albirex has stopped caring and Kobe Paras feels the same.
The team is in last place in the entire League B standings with just two wins and 16 losses. In the team’s first 12 losses, they lost eight games with 8 points or less. Seven of those eight losses were 5 points or less.
Since resuming League B after the FIBA window break, the Albirex have lost their last four games by an average of 20 points.
Against the Shibuya Sun Rockers this weekend, Niigata fell twice, 70-79 on Saturday in a match where Paras made only one attempt in six on the field, and 72-97 on Sunday while Paras did not. shot only once out of 4. He finished with a total of 5 points combined in both games. He also ended up with zero boards in Sunday’s game, the third time in four games Paras failed to grab a single rebound.
Niagata’s Albirex have lost their last 15 games.
Paras scored in double digits in his first six games for Niigata and averaged 16.3 points, the second-best among Asians in all of League B. He averaged just 6.6 points in his last 12 games where he only scored in double digits twice.
The road ahead is not paved for Niigata as they face the Shimane Susanoo Magic on Wednesday and the Hiroshima Dragonflies this coming weekend. Shimane and Hiroshima both have winning records.
Javi misses victory
Javi Gomez de Liaño’s passage on the pitch last Saturday proved to be rather uneventful. He watched the action for 18 minutes and scored 2 points on 1 of 3 shots from the field. He returned the ball four times. He took 3 rebounds, however, and also recorded 1 block and 1 interception. The Ibaraki robots were toppled by Japanese star point guard Seiya Ando and Shimane Susanoo Magic, 59-87.
The next day, the Robots pulled off what is easily one of the biggest upsets of the season in League B when they took revenge on Shimane, 88-85. Gomez de Liaño was not fielded during the match.
With the win, the Ibaraki Robots escaped the cellar and improved to 3-15, one game ahead of the people of lower Niigata and Kyoto. – Rappler.com