Carrying The Flag: Checking Up On Our Filipino Players In The Japan B. League

Japan B.League has been a home for Filipino talent for quite some time now. But how are our guys over there doing today? 

Since 2020, the Japan B.League has been welcoming top Filipino basketball players into their competition, starting with former Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena. Over the next four years, more Filipino talents would follow, being signed as “Asian Quota” players, which is basically an Asian import.

While Filipino players have come and gone in the B.League, a good number of players still remain. Late into the 2023-2024 season, let’s check in on our kababayans in Japan’s top-flight basketball league.

Thirdy Ravena, SanEn NeoPhoenix 
What a year for Thirdy Ravena. (Photo Credit: B.League on Instagram)

Thirdy Ravena’s fourth B. League season is his best so far, as he is set to make his playoff debut as part of now-Central Division champions San-En NeoPhoenix with their 41-10 slate.

Thirdy continues to be a reliable starter for San-En. In 48 games played, he’s averaging a career-high 13 points on 51 percent shooting, to go along with 4.9 rebounds (also a career high), and three assists per game in almost 28 minutes played. 

As always, Thirdy continues to be a physically imposing guard with a solid inside game and off-ball movement for San-En. While the numbers may not show it, the younger Ravena also remains a double-double threat four years in the B.League. 

Additionally, Thirdy has just reached 2,000 career points in the B. League–another milestone to add to a dream season that also includes an All-Star nod. 

Kai Sotto, Yokohama B-Corsairs
Kai Sotto’s Yokohama stint is a blessing in disguise (Photo Credit: Kai Sotto on Instagram)

Currently, Kai Sotto is on loan with the Yokohama B-Corsairs — a much-needed opportunity for the Kaiju. This is arguably Sotto’s silver lining, alongside his 2024 Asia All-Stars nod. 

Just last March, the seven-foot-three Sotto notched a career-high 28 points in a loss to Alvark Tokyo. His previous high was 26 points accompanied by 11 rebounds in an overtime win against Eastern Conference third-seed Chiba Jets. 

In between, Sotto also had a double-digit scoring streak for the B-Corsairs. Six of these were accompanied by double-digit rebounds. All-in-all, he has recorded 12.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, and a block in 19.5 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Sotto has also started in 16 of the 26 games he’s played. 

Sotto has adhered to his usual strengths with Yokohama: being a lob threat, and an imposing paint presence with rebounding and defensive instincts. The big difference is likely in Japan’s rising star Yuki Kawamura–the B-Corsairs’ point guard and the B.League’s top playmaker with 7.6 assists per game.

Kiefer Ravena, Shiga Lakestars
It’s a redemption year for Kiefer Ravena and the Shiga Lakestars. (Photo Credit: Shiga Lakestars on Instagram)

Kiefer Ravena is entering his third B. League season in their B2 league. Following a 14-46 season, his Shiga Lakestars were relegated to the top-flight league’s second division. 

Kiefer and the Shiga Lakestars have since been crowned B2 Western Conference champions. A Finals berth is still needed to get the B1 promotion.

In his third season, Kiefer remains one of the B. League’s better playmakers. With 5.6 assists in 56 games played, the older Ravena is fifth among the second division’s assist leaders. Add to that, is another Asia All-Stars nod. 

Scoring-wise, Kiefer is putting up a humble 12.4 points per game, close to his first-year average of 13.2 points per game. As in previous years, “The Phenom” has used his shot-creation skills to contribute offensively. 

Currently, his B2 season high is at 25 points in a 100-89 win against the Ehime Orange Vikings last January. This came after he set his season-high of 12 assists in a 97-74 blowout over Shizuoka Veltex in December.

RJ Abarrientos, Shinshu Brave Warriors
Hopefully, RJ Abarrientos can find success in Japan soon. (Photo Credit: RJ Abarrientos on Instagram)

After a rookie of the year stint in Korea, RJ Abarrientos joined the Shinshu Brave Warriors ahead of the current B. League season. Understandably, Abarrientos is yet to find his stride, with him being an off-the-bench player in the 7-44 Brave Warriors. 

However, the former FEU stud has shown some potential throughout the season. Most covered was his career-high 24-point explosion last November in an 83-79 victory over AJ Edu’s Toyama Grouses. 

For the season, Abarrientos is only averaging 8.4 points per game, 2.4 assists, and 1.8 rebounds per game in 15.2 minutes of play. Of his 44 games played, Abarrientos has only started thrice. 

Regardless, he did have a memorable 2024 All-Star Weekend, coming in third during their Skills Challenge, and being one of nine Filipino All-Stars (pretty much everyone on this list).  

Dwight Ramos Levanga Hokkaido 
Not the most memorable season for Saint Dwight, but a productive one at best. (Photo Credit: Dwight Ramos on Instagram)

Gilas mainstay Dwight Ramos is in his third season in the B. League, and his second with Levanga Hokkaido. Like his national team stints, Ramos is your fundamentally sound contributor for the 15-36 Levanga. 

Currently, he’s putting up a career-high 10.8 points per game, accompanied by 3.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. 

But “Saint Dwight” has had his moments. In December last year, Ramos became the third Filipino to breach the 1,000-point mark–ironically in an 87-65 victory over his original B. League team Toyama Grouses. 

In January, Ramos also captained the 2024 B. League Asia All-Stars. Last February, he came close to eclipsing his career-high of 26, with a 25-point effort in an 89-83 thriller over Kai Sotto’s Yokohama B-Corsairs. 

Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Nagoya Diamond Dolphins
Less is more has paid off for Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (Photo Credit: Nagoya Diamond Dolphins on Instagram)

Bobby Ray Parks Jr. continues to take on a reduced, but still productive role with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in his third season. While a dip from his first two seasons, Parks is currently averaging 8.3 points per game, to go along with 3.7 rebounds, two assists, and a steal. 

Parks also remains solid from the three-point line with a 36.2 percent average, making 51 out of his 141 triples for the 2023-2024 season.

As noted, the 6’4 big guard has only started in 11 out of 44 games he’s played. Currently, his Diamond Dolphins occupy the second spot in the B.League’s Western Conference, with a 34-17 record.

Despite his bench role, Parks Jr. became the fourth Filipino to reach 1,000 B. League career points–just a week after Dwight Ramos did so. Besides that, he was also one of the 2024 Asia All-Stars.

AJ Edu, Toyama Grouses 
Hopefully, AJ Edu comes back soon. (Photo Credit: Toyama Grouses on Instagram)

Gilas big AJ Edu has been sidelined by a torn meniscus suffered last November 2023. But in 14 games played so far, Edu has mostly been a solid big man for the Toyama Grouses. Additionally, he’s also shown a willingness to fire a jumper or two. 

In 14 games played, Edu has averaged 13.1 points per game, 8.9 rebounds, and a steal in 29.2 minutes played. To date, he’s had his career-best 19 points against Nagasaki Velca last October, and against the Ryukyu Golden Kings a month later, despite both being losses. 

Meanwhile, Edu’s best rebounding output came in his second game against Osaka Evessa. Despite the 86-77 loss, the Filipino-Cypriot managed to snag 15 rebounds.

Matthew Wright, Kyoto Hannaryz
Still a lot to be proud of for Matthew Wright (Photo Credit: Kyoto Hannayrz on Instagram)

Matthew Wright remains with Kyoto Hannaryz for his second B.League season. Like most Filipino imports, we’ve yet to see the Filipino-Canadian make the playoffs, given Kyoto Hannaryz’s 14-37 record currently. 

Despite that, and a dip in his stats, Wright still has some highlights to remember. Early into the season, Wright erupted for a 31-point outing — built on seven triples — in a loss against Thirdy Ravena’s San-En NeoPhoenix. To date, Wright is still the lone Filipino to breach the 30-point mark. 

The sharpshooter was also the fastest Filipino to reach 1,000 B. League career points, only needing 80 games to do so. Of course, there was also his All-Star nod last January, alongside most if not all players on this list. 

For the season, Wright is averaging 11.7 points per game, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 26.9 minutes played. In 44 games played, the former Phoenix FuelMaster has started a total of 32 times. 

Roosevelt Adams, Yamagata Wyverns
Has Roosevelt Adams found a new home in Japan? (Photo Credit: Yamagata Wyverns on Instagram)

Former PBA lottery pick Roosevelt Adams is now in his second season in the Japan B. League, now with the Yamagata Wyverns. He’s been a reliable contributor with his 9.2 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game. 

Adams and the Wyverns are in the midst of a B.2 playoffs push. Just last month, the former Terrafirma Dyip scored a Japan career-high 22 points to keep the Wyverns on top of the “wildcard race”. 

As a bonus, Adams was also one of the nine Filipinos in the 2024 Asia All-Stars squad last January.

Greg Slaughter, Fukuoka Rizing Zephyr 
While peaceful, Greg Slaughter has been otherwise unproductive in Japan. (Photo Credit: Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka on Instagram)

Greg Slaughter has been an afterthought in his second Japan B. League season. In 30 games played, the former Ginebra big only averages 2.7 points per game, 1.9 rebounds in 6.9 minutes per game for B.2 League team Fukuoka Rizing Zephyr. 

While he had at least two double-digit scoring outputs between December 2023 and January this year, they had come during blowout losses against Altiri Chiba and the Kumamomo Vorters. As a consolation, Slaughter was called up as one of the 2024 Asia All-Stars. 

Matthew Aquino, Shinshu Brave Warriors
Matthew Aquino still continues to find a place in Japanese basketball. (Photo Credit: Matthew Aquino on Instagram)

Three seasons in, and Filipino-Japanese big Matthew Aquino continues to see limited action for the Shinshu Brave Warriors. For the 2023-2024 season, the second-generation big’s averages are as follows: 2.5 points per game and 1.7 rebounds in 7.6 minutes played per game. 

Banner Image from Kai Sotto on Instagram.

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