NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena will no longer return for the remainder of the 2021 PBA season after securing his release from the both league and the Road Warriors on Saturday.
NLEX official Ronald Dulatre and PBA boss Willie Marcial both confirmed the development to ESPN5, as the Road Warriors had already sent their approval in writing to the Commissioner's office.
"If it's OK with NLEX, it's OK with the PBA," Marcial told ESPN5.com.
Ravena is presently in Japan, originally just to process his papers, but now in full preparation for the start of the Japan B. League season set to tip off Sep. 30. He and his team, the Shiga Lakestars, will have their first two games against the San-En NeoPhoenix, which features brother Thirdy on Oct. 2 and 3.
The star guard left for Tokyo last Aug. 25 in order to settle requirements as an Asian import. Once those were taken care of, NLEX stated that he will be returning for the team's games in the ongoing Philippine Cup.
However, the length of quarantine in going back-and-forth derailed his chances of getting back in time to help the Road Warriors' playoff run. Prior to his departure, he averaged 15.8 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.8 rebounds.
In fact, head coach Yeng Guiao had already said they were not expecting Ravena back.
"I told the team, let's expect that we have to do this on our own. We should not expect that Kiefer can come back. It will be just a bonus," stated the fiery mentor in an interview right after his court general left for Japan.
"I don't know [if he'll come back], I'm not sure because of that limitation in time, if that is practical. If we're eliminated, what will he return for? I think it will depend on how far we will get. If we go to the semifinals, he may still see action, but if we're eliminated, there's nothing," he added.
Shiga agreed in principle with Ravena last June, but the partnership was initially disallowed by the PBA due to his existing Uniform Player's Contract (UPC).
After a change of heart from Asia's oldest professional basketball league almost two months later, however, "The Phenom" was allowed to play in the B.League for just one season. The Road Warriors were also fined an undisclosed amount for abrogating the UPC.
Per the agreement, Ravena will have to sign a fresh contract with NLEX upon his return, and if does not, he will be sanctioned by the league.
Despite not having their primary playmaker since late Aug., the Road Warriors were able to make it to the playoffs as the seventh seed, with their backs against the wall, facing a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the Meralco Bolts.