Kiefer return still unlikely as deal length, Gilas call-up stall talks
Kiefer Ravena is in the middle of contract negotiations to return to the NLEX lineup when the 47th PBA Season gets off the ground with the Philippine Cup on Sunday, but a short term deal and a Gilas Pilipinas call-up recently could thwart his return to the league.
At least, for this season.
With four days left before what the PBA is saying as its return to the old, normal format, Ravena and NLEX management have yet to come to terms, a source privy to the negotiations told the Inquirer on the condition that he remain anonymous.
Ravena is reportedly seeking a one-conference deal before he returns to the more lucrative B.League in Japan, the same league Matthew Wright is headed to once his contract with Phoenix Super LPG expires at the end of the Philippine Cup.
But the Road Warriors are hesitant to agree to any short-term pact.
“The team is not keen on a one-conference deal,” said the source. “Getting called to the National team will greatly cut his time with NLEX if ever it approves of the one-conference deal.”
The stalemate could lead to Ravena spending another season out of the league.
“In all likelihood, Kiefer won’t be playing in the PBA this season,” the source said.
Getting the call to play for the flag in two big international tournaments in July means Ravena will be pulled out of the NLEX lineup again for a couple of weeks, which could disrupt team harmony.
“Right now we’re still negotiating and Kiefer is just waiting for a call from coach Yeng [Guiao] by [Thursday] morning,” Marvin Espiritu, Ravena’s manager, told the Inquirer over the phone. “He has been practicing with NLEX and right now, he is with Gilas. So he is excited about that.”
Return to Japan
But the source, whom the Inquirer talked to ahead of Espiritu, said that NLEX management would want a full-time lineup that will have a shot to compete for the title in all three conferences.
Ravena, who suited up for the Philippine Five in a losing cause in the Hanoi 31st Southeast Asian Games last month, is slated to return to Japan around the last quarter of the year where two more conferences—the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governors’ Cup—will still be contested.
Wright, meanwhile, will definitely play for the Fuel Masters in the Philippine Cup before he signs a B.League contract.
He will become the latest PBA star to play overseas, following Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks Jr., and a bunch of other talents like Dwight Ramos and Thirdy Ravena who could have been PBA team cornerstones.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said that his office is under the impression that Ravena and NLEX are still in talks and that the Road Warriors could add or strike off a player on the roster any time before the elimination round of a conference ends.