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Amid fallout from fans, PBA appeals for understanding on Kiefer Ravena decision

Not even an uproar of local fan support for Kiefer Ravena could budge the PBA from its position of upholding the "rule of contracts" in denying the NLEX star's bid to play in the Japanese B.League.

"I understand where the fans are coming from," league chairman Ricky Vargas said on Saturday. "(But) Kiefer, hopefully, will stay with us. They'll be able to watch Kiefer play in the PBA."

Vargas, along with commissioner Willie Marcial and vice chairman Bobby Rosales of Terrafirma, presented a united front during the virtual press conference, where the PBA put its foot down on the Ravena situation by compelling the Road Warriors guard to honor his contract with his mother team.

The decision comes three days after the Shiga Lakestars announced the development that would have made Ravena the second Filipino to be listed Asian Player Quota import in the six-year-old league.

"I know how much the fans want him to play there. We want that, too. But there's a contract that should be followed. It's basic. He's under a contract. We really can't let this situation pass," Marcial said in Filipino.

Ravena signed an extension September last year that would effectively tie him down to NLEX for at least three more seasons.

His contract became a sticking point between the PBA and Ravena, who needed to secure clearance from the league before proceeding with the process of getting the green light from SBP and from FIBA to play in Japan.

"Breaking the rule of contracts or the rule of law, at this point in time, is going to be a difficult precedent not only for us, the PBA, but as well as for FIBA," Vargas remarked. "FIBA is also very strict about adhering to contracts. FIBA deems the contracts of the players sacrosanct as well. That is also their point of view."

There has not been an absence of discussion among PBA fans about adding buyouts, exit clauses or loans in the Uniform Player's Contract (UPC) signed by every player in the league, but it remains to be seen whether such additions are part of the recommendations the league's study board will present to the Board of Governors "as soon as possible."

Rosales, who heads the said group, kept the details of the proposals private but said "the study group has opened its mind also to what is happening."

"Whatever proposals we will be submitting to the board for approval, we are not seeking out any particular individuals. It will be a proposal for the whole of the PBA, all the teams, all the players and all the coaches," he expressed.

"We're trying our best also to address all issues. Maybe we cannot make everybody happy, but the study group has opened its mind also to what is happening," Rosales added. "On that note, I cannot tell you more until the group submits it to the board. They'll have to approve it or disapprove of it. The study group was formed not to make the policy, let me make that clear."