JAKARTA (Indonesia) – Japan’s B.League made plenty of noise last season when they introduced the “Asian Players Quota”. This opened the opportunity for players like Thirdy Ravena (Philippies) and Yang JaeMin (Korea) to play in the up-and-coming professional league for the first time.
With the evident success of Thirdy and Yang still fresh in everyone’s memories, the teams in the B.League have been more aggressive in seeking out talents to utilize their “Asian Players Quotas”. This has resulted in a rapid increase “Asian Players Quota” signings, which means that Asia Cup fans will have plenty to forward to seeing in the upcoming season.
Here are some Asia Cup players from outside of Japan that will be plying their trade in the B.League this year!
Thirdy Ravena (Philippines)
Re-Signed with San-En NeoPhoenix
FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Call him the trailblazer.
Thirdy Ravena was the poster boy of the “Asian Players Quota” for the B.League and had other teams hoping that they could replicate the impact he had both on and off the court. Over 18 games, Thirdy averaged 9.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for NeoPhoenix.
The acrobatic antics and energizing plays were expected from Thirdy, as he had already displayed while playing for the Philippines in the Asia Cup Qualifiers. He might have played in only one game in the Qualifiers, but what a game that was against Indonesia.
Ravena had 23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 monster blocks to start off the impressive Qualifiers campaign for the Philippines.
San-En finished near the bottom of the table in the B.League last season but hopefully with the return of a healthy Thirdy, they’ll be able to improve on that.
Yang Jae-Min (Korea)
Re-Signed with Shinshu Brave Warriors
Yang has yet to play for the senior national team whether it’s at the Asia Cup or the Asia Cup Qualifiers, but the former youth national team standout should eventually get the nod at some point.
The 22-year-old forward played in 38 games and averaged 2.7 points per contest for the newly-promoted Brave Warriors, on their way to finishing with a 20-34 record. This just means that there’s plenty of room left to improve for both the Brave Warriors – and Yang as well.
Kiefer Ravena (Philippines)
Signed with Shiga Lakestars
FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 10 points, 3 assists, 4 steals
One good Ravena in the B.League deserves another.
Kiefer, the elder Ravena, has more experience than his younger brother whether it’s playing in the World Cup or playing professionally in the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA). This will make it interesting to see if his game can translate as well as his sibling did last season playing for the Lakestars.
Like Thirdy, Kiefer played in only one Asia Cup Qualifiers game and made his impact by setting up his teammates – including his own brother as they played with each other for the first time on the national team.
Don’t be surprised if the Lakestars lean on Kiefer for heavy contributions early in the season as major contributors from the 13th-placed team from last season like Kevin Hareyama have moved on to other teams.
Kobe Paras (Philippines)
Signed with Niigata Albirex BB
FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 3.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists per game
What a coincidence.
Paras shares the namesake with the late legend Kobe Bryant whose name originated from the Japanese beef. Now, Paras finds himself playing in Japan. The connection might seem like a reach, but B.League fans will surely have fun with it without a doubt.
They’ll also have plenty of fun watching Kobe Paras in action as Philippines basketball and Asia Cup fans have had over the years. Paras is a high-flying phenomenon who already has an impressive playlist of highlight dunks. It’s a list that he’ll certainly be looking to add to in these upcoming months.
Paras had plenty of notable moments in his two Asia Cup Qualifiers games, including a thunderous slam against Thailand. That’s what Niigata fans will be anticipating to see in their games.
Niigata’s leading scorer from last season, Roscoe Allen, is returning, but the team will be without legendary point guard Kei Igarashi for the first time in five seasons. This leaves a lot of room for Paras to contribute. It will be up to him if he’s up for the task.
Dwight Ramos (Philippines)
Signed with Toyama Grouses
FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 13.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2 steals per game
Was there anyone else that improved their stock as much as Dwight Ramos during the Asia Cup Qualifiers?
The 23-year-old guard started the Qualifiers by getting recognized for his “perfect” game of 20 points on 7-7 shooting against Thailand and ended as the leader of a young Philippines squad that beat Korea twice in the span of just a few days.
There was certainly no surprise when Ramos signed to play in the B.League and should be no doubt about whether he’ll be able to perform.
Toyama were one of the better teams from last season with a 39-21 record, but couldn’t advance past the Quarter-Finals. Rising young stars Satoru Maeta and Yuta Okada are now gone, but the team has added veteran leadership by adding a former Asia Cup standout Keijuro Matsui. Japan national team regular Naoki Uto is also back after a spectacular season, which means adding Ramos to the mix should make this team much, much better.
Javi Gomez De Liano (Philippines)
Signed with Ibaraki Robots
FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 10.7 points per game, 50 percent three-point shooting
Javi Gomez De Liano has made a name for himself as a marksman, which he put on display after going 4-4 against Thailand in the Asia Cup Qualifiers. That long range shooting will certainly be an aspect that the recently promoted Ibaraki Robots are expecting to utilize.
The Robots will also have Marc Trasolini, a Canadian forward who has three-years of B.League experience on his belt, as they embark on their debut season in Division 1.
Juan Gomez De Liano (Philippines)
Signed with Earthfriends Tokyo Z
FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 12.0 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists per game
Oh, did you think the Ravenas would be the only set of Filipino brothers to play in Japan this season? Well, you’d be wrong because the De Liano bros are here to play as well!
Juan Gomez De Liano dazzled with his stylish ball-handling skills and clutch shooting for the Philippines through the Asia Cup Qualifiers, proving to be yet another bright spot in the young Gilas rotation. Though he’s a bit younger than his brother Javi, he doesn’t let his age hold his confidence back.
The two De Lianons won’t be competing against each other in the B.League just yet as Earthfriends Tokyo Z will be playing in Division 2 this season, which is a shame. Will adding Juan to the squad be enough for Tokyo Z to be promoted next year.
Kemark Carino (Philippines)
Signed with Aomari Wat’s
FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 3.0 points, 3.0 rebounds per game
The players listed here so far have been perimeter players. Kemark Carino breaks that mold as the 2.03M (6’8”) power forward is set to join Juan Gomez De Liano in Division 2 of the B.League.
Carino flashed his potential at different points of his two Asia Cup Qualifiers appearances and he’ll get a good chance to develop his talents in Japan.
Ray Parks Jr. (Philippines)
Signed with Nagoya Diamond Dolphins
The list of Filipino stars heading to the B.League just seems to keep going on and on and Ray Parks Jr. could possibly be the biggest name yet.
Parks might not have yet to see action in neither the Asia Cup or the Asia Cup Qualifiers, but he’s a proven Gilas talent going back to his debut at the Olympics Qualifying Tournament in 2016.
He’s a proven superstar whether it’s in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) where he won multiple awards or in the PBA where he was regarded as one of the league’s top players, so it’s not hard to imagine seeing him light up the B.League as well.
The Diamond Dolphins failed to make the playoffs last season with a 32-24 record and will no longer have star sharpshooter Ando Shuto this season, but they’ll have plenty of talet to make up for that loss. Takumi Saito should continue to improve from his breakout season alongside national team forward Tenketsu Harimoto., while Yutaro Suda will be a key addition to the team.
However, all eyes will certainly be on former NBA G-League talent Ray Parks Jr. who would be a top scoring option for the team from day 1.
Brandon Jawato (Indonesia)
Signed with Utsunomiya Brex
FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers statistics: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists
Filipino stars have dominated most of this entire list, but the Asia Cup star that might end up experiencing the most success in the B.League this year might just be Indonesia’s Brandon Jawato.
We all remember Jawato’s spectacular debut for Indonesia when he flirted with a triple-double against Thailand in the Qualifiers. An injury kept him sidelined and we weren’t able to see more of Jawato in action since, making his upcoming B.League debut that much more enticing.
Brex are easily one of the best teams in the entire league, however you look at their body of work. They have one B.League title from the inaugural season in 2016-17 and have always been among one of the top teams in the standings. After finishing with a league-best 49-11 record last season, Utsunomiya made it all the way to the Finals last year.
Brex are loaded from top to bottom with legends like Yuta Tabuse and Kosuke Takeuchi to modern stars like Makoto Hiejima and Yusuke Endo to rising young talents like reigning Rookie of the Year Kai Toews. Adding a player of Jawato’s caliber seems like it could give the Brex a mighty advantage in their search for a second B.League title.
Lin Chih Wei (Chinese Taipei)
Signed with Rising Zephyr Fukuoka
Joining Juan Gomez De Liano and Kemark Karino in Division 2 of the B.League is Lin Chih Wei who will be playing for Rising Zephyr Fukuoka. Lin is a bit older at 29 years old, but with age comes experience.
The 1.98M (6’6”) forward has played in both the Asia Cup back in 2017 and the World Cup Qualifiers for Chinese Taipei. After playing domestically with the Fubon Braves over the years in Chinese Taipei, now he’ll get the chance to put his skills to the test against B.League competition.
Nick Kay (Australia)
Signed with Shimane Susanoo Magic
We’re going to be cheating a bit here for the next few mentions, as these players aren’t signed by using up the “Asian Player Quota” but are still recognizable faces in the Asia Cup circle nonetheless.
Let’s start off with Kick Kay, who had a breakout performance at the Tokyo Olympics, averaging 11.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for the bronze medalist Boomers. Kay’s been a big part of the Boomers such as winning the Asia Cup title in 2017 and, at just 29 years of age, he should continue to be a major contributor to the team moving forward, too.
In this upcoming season, Kay will be joining a revamped Magic team who are looking to make a lot of noise. The team was promoted to Division 1 in 2019 and improved to a 28-32 record last season to spark plenty of optimism for the future.
They were busy this offseason by signing Japan national team stars like Seiya Ando and Kosuke Kanamaru to form a formidable core which will also feature Kay in the lineup.
Angus Brandt (Australia)
Signed with Kagawa Five Arrows
Angus Brandt is another Boomer that will be playing in the B.League, though he’ll be a bit more familiar with the scene having played for the Shiga Lakestars last season.
Brandt is another member of the Asia Cup 2017 championship squad, capable of providing quite a punch down low.
His main mission this year is to help the Kagawa Five Arrows get promoted to the top ranks of the B.League for the first time.
Isaac Fotu (New Zealand)
Signed with Utsunomiya Brex
The Tall Blacks will be here to play in the B.League, too!
Isaac Fotu is one of the most familiar faces of the modern Tall Blacks team, whether it’s his unique hair or style of play. After spending many years playing in Europe, Fotu is now taking his talents to Asia – specifically Japan – here in the B.League.
Fotu’s new team, Utsunomiya Brex, were a formiable squad already even before this signing as mentioned above. With Fotu in the mix, the Brex should certainly be pegged as one of the top contenders for the title this season.
Two Chinese players, Jin Liu (Nishinomiya Storks) and Wang WeiJia (Akita Northern Happinets), are also signed as “Asian Player Quotas” for this upcoming season in the B.League.