MANILA, Philippines – When I first heard of Kiefer Ravena’s signing with Japanese basketball team Shiga Lakestars of the Japan B. League, my thoughts were, “Oh, didn’t he just sign a contract extension with the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA?”
That was followed by, “Oh, wow. This is cool! Am happy for him.”
When I sobered down after a few minutes, my next thoughts turned into questions.
Did he seek a release from NLEX and the PBA?
If he did, good for him. This is exciting.
If not, uh oh. This spells trouble.
From what I know — and I corroborated this with league officials — when a player seeks to be released from a contract, most immediately, he goes to his team. The team could agree or disagree. In other leagues, I have heard of players buying out their contract. I don’t know of a local player buying out his contract. Maybe another team. But I cannot be sure of that.
In the PBA, there is a contract between the team, the player and the league, making it a tripartite contract. Meaning any release has to be agreed by the ball club and the league.
Now if the said player is moving to play for another federation and he has secured his release from those two parties, the next release is from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas — the governing body of Philippine basketball.
In this case, if Ravena’s contract with the Shiga Lakestars is good, the Japanese club will request for clearance from the SBP. Then SBP will submit the request to the PBA, and the PBA then verifies with the club.
Today, in the Asean Basketball League, clubs that have Filipino players also seek clearances from the SBP.
Ditto with imports who come to play in the PBA.
I verified with the SBP that the club that Kiefer’s younger brother Thirdy plays for in Japan —San-en NeoPhoenix — did obtain clearance with the SBP. It’s only with the SBP because he did not play for any other club after his stint with Ateneo.
I checked with PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and he still gave his two-worded answer, “Hindi pwede.”
Now, NLEX has released a statement that they will abide by the PBA’s rules: “We understand and support Kiefer’s desire for personal advancement. However, as a member of the PBA, we are duty bound to abide by the rules and regulations that govern the league. The NLEX Road Warriors stand by the tripartite agreement between our organization, the PBA, and the individual player, which is enshrined in the Uniform Player Contract (UPC). The Japan engagement of Kiefer will need to conform to the terms of the UPC as well as the rules and policies of the PBA.”
Not a good sign.
I don’t think the PBA will stop at anyone’s personal development. I think it is more of a procedural concern.
I reached out to both Kiefer and his mother Mozzy but received no reply. Having said that, I’d like to think the Ravenas are aware of the procedures. But since no one is speaking yet, it is hard to assume any wrongdoing because that would be prejudiced.
I can only hope that the acrimony that occurred between Thirdy Ravena and the PBA for the former opting to skip the PBA draft and to play in Japan (for the record, I stand with Thirdy on that) doesn’t spill over into this, and that there be a happy resolution for all.
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