Every week, Dribble Media will be handing out individual grades for the talented crop of Filipino imports now playing in the 2021-22 B.League season.
Players who missed action
Javi Gomez de Liaño, Ibaraki Robots – Undisclosed reasons
Matthew Aquino, Shinshu Brave Warriors – Coach’s decision
Dwight Ramos, Toyama Grouses
After a horrendous shooting clip in his first two games for Toyama, Ramos put on a great bounce-back weekend against the Ryukyu Golden Kings. Ramos was again one of the focal points of the Grouses’ offense, and he made the most of it by averaging 14.0 points on shooting splits of 45.4/37.5/83.3 for an excellent true shooting percentage (TS%) of 56.8%. That is definitely a boost for Ramos, as he only accumulated a lowly 28.9% TS% against the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in his debut games.
One thing that Ramos did great last weekend was that he was extra aggressive in putting the ball on the floor. Whether that resulted in his smooth mid-range pull-up jumpers or baiting for fouls inside the paint, it was a more effective offense for Ramos as compared to his games against Nagoya when he launched three-pointers at will and only made one (1-of-9).
The weekend resulted in another winless slate for the 0-8 Toyama, but they only lost on an average margin of 5.0 points at the hands of a Ryukyu squad that’s sporting a 6-2 slate this season. Ramos and the Grouses are still looking for their first win, but there’s no doubt that things are already looking up for them.
Dwight’s Week 4 Grade: A-
Ray Parks Jr., Nagoya Diamond Dolphins
It was a tale of two different games not just for Nagoya, but also for Parks. Nagoya trounced Shiga and Kiefer Ravena in their first faceoff last Saturday via a 39-point beating, and Parks was the best player in that win. He scored a team-high 22 points, and he did so by attacking the rim and constantly putting pressure on his defenders. When Shiga’s defense converged on his penetrations, Parks made sure that he found an open teammate, as he dished out four assists in the process.
But the Diamond Dolphins found themselves living in nightmare the following day, as the Lakestars turned the tables and won by a 31-point margin. Parks only compiled seven points on four attempts, and committed three turnovers. A couple of positive takeaways from his performance would be his defense (three steals), and the fact that he is still getting to the free throw line (3-of-4 FT).
Nevertheless, it’s not a secret that Nagoya trusts Parks’ abilities. After making him come off the bench in the first four games of the season, Parks started in the two games against Shiga, resulting in an increase in his playing time.
Ray’s Week 4 Grade: B+
Kiefer Ravena, Shiga Lakestars
As mentioned in our Parks discussion, the Shiga-Nagoya series was characterized by two different stories. In their embarrassing loss to the Diamond Dolphins last Saturday, Kiefer hit only one of his 13 total attempts from the field, including a 0-of-4 clip from the three-point line.
But Kiefer displayed his court generalship the next game as he tallied nine assists without committing a single turnover. He also drilled four treys on his way to 16 total markers, showing to everyone why he is one of the best all-around point guards in the current B.League season. Kiefer started the second game against Nagoya with a defensive stop on Parks, and then proceeded to hit a left wing trifecta in the next possession. That set the tone for the Lakestars as they convincingly defeated the Diamond Dolphins, 110-79.
On top of that, Kiefer’s work on the defensive end of the floor is doing wonders for Shiga. His average of 2.0 steals currently ranks third behind Coty Clarke of Nagoya and Anthony McHenry of Shinshu.
Kiefer’s Week 4 Grade: B
Thirdy Ravena, San-En NeoPhoenix
Inaccurate long-range marksmanship (2-of-9 3PT) and failure to get to the free throw line (only two FT attempts) were the concerning issues in Thirdy’s performance last weekend. Still, the San-En wingman was overall a positive presence for his team when they split their two games against the Ibaraki Robots.
Thirdy is putting more emphasis on his growth as a playmaker, and that paid dividends when he tallied a team-high six assists and zero turnovers in San-En’s 83-66 win over Ibaraki last Sunday. Despite finishing with only seven points on 3-of-10 shooting, Thirdy made plays for his teammates and also hauled in a team-best seven rebounds.
It was a well-balanced weekend for Thirdy, but it would be great to see him be more aggressive in getting to the charity stripe the same way that he did in the first four games of the season when he averaged 5.0 free throw attempts.
Thirdy’s Week 4 Grade: B
Kobe Paras, Niigata Albirex BB
Just like the other players in this list who had their fair share of struggles to start the season, Paras had his own version of a forgettable weekend. His scoring and his shooting percentages drastically went down as Niigata fumbled their series against the Seahorses Mikawa, sending Paras and his team to their fifth consecutive loss.
One bright spot in an otherwise bad string of games for Paras was his progress as a help defender. He averaged 2.0 blocks against Mikawa, and he is now ranked 14th overall in blocks this season. Kobe and Niigata will try to get back to their winning ways this weekend, but the road gets tougher as they face Alvark Tokyo, who is currently seated second in the East District.
Kobe’s Week 4 Grade: C
Juan Gomez de Liaño, Earthfriends Tokyo Z (Division II)
Gomez de Liaño scored eight points on 42.9% shooting from the field, and also dropped a couple of dimes in almost 12 minutes of play in Tokyo’s first game against the Fighting Eagles Nagoya. It could have been an efficient performance for the lefty combo guard, except that he used up all his five fouls and exited the game early.
The former University of the Philippines star then sat out the next game, citing an aggravated quad injury. Gomez de Liaño was efficient on offense when he was on the court, but fouling out in just 12 minutes is simply inexcusable.
Juan’s Week 4 Grade: C
Kenmark Cariño, Aomori Wat’s (Division II)
Cariño made his long-awaited debut in the B.League Division 2 when he logged a total of seven minutes in Aomori’s 88-83 loss to the Kagawa Five Arrows. He didn’t attempt a single shot, and he finished with two rebounds and an assist while incurring a couple of fouls.
Unfortunately, Cariño was reduced to a DNP the next game as Aomori absorbed another defeat at the hands of Kagawa, dropping them to a 1-7 overall record this season. Cariño’s grade will be incomplete for now, but we’re hoping to see more of him when Aomori goes up against the Koshigaya Alphas this weekend.
Kenmark’s Week 4 Grade: Incomplete