It all started with Thirdy Ravena signing with San-En back in 2020.
Two years later, the B.League is set to have at least 10 Filipinos competing in the 2022-23 season of Japan’s premier league.
And for 2019 B.League MVP Yuki Togashi, he shared that he loves facing off against the likes of Kiefer Ravena (Shiga), Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (Nagoya), and Dwight Ramos (Toyama).
“Yeah. I love it. They are so competitive.
“I love playing against a lot of Asian players in the B.League. So I hope more Filipino players are coming — not just Filipino players, maybe Chinese, Korean, or whoever. I love to play against them,” said the 5-foot-6 guard who plays for Chiba.
Besides the Ravena bros, Parks, and Ramos, there were five other Filipinos competing in the league, namely Juan Gomez de Liano (Tokyo Z), Javi Gomez de Liano (Ibaraki), Kobe Paras (Niigata), Kemark Carino (Aomori), and Matthew Aquino (Shinshu).
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This season, the GDL bros and Carino have decided to come back home while Ramos and Paras transferred to Hokkaido and Altiri Chiba, respectively.
There are new additions as well with Justine Baltazar signing with Hiroshima, Jordan Heading going to Nagasaki, and Greg Slaughter playing for Fukuoka. Matthew Wright is also expected to play in the B.League as well.
According to Togashi, having Filipinos in their league has increased the level of competition. And with it, it raised the game of the Japanese players.
It can be seen during the Gilas versus Akatsuki Five quarterfinals game in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup last Tuesday.
There were only two non-B.League players in Japan’s lineup in Yuta Watanabe (Toronto) and Keisei Tominaga (University of Nebraska Omaha).
Even without Watanabe for the majority of the second half, Japan cruised past the Philippines, 102-81 — its first win over Gilas since 2010.
That is why Togashi can’t wait for more Asian basketball players to join their league.
“It’s good for us. It’s gonna be more high-level. And I think B.League wants to be the best league in Asia, so we hope that all the Asian players want to come to play in Japan. I think that’s one of our goals, too,” said Togashi, who developed a close friendship with Kiefer as well.
“We’re glad that a lot of the Philippines’ players are playing in the B.League right now.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.