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Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007

BJ-LEAGUE

MVP Washington to sit out two games with sprained ankle


Staff writer

Osaka Evessa power forward Lynn Washington will miss this weekend's games with a sprained ankle, coach Kensaku Tennichi said Wednesday.

Washington sustained the injury in the first quarter of Saturday's bj-league All-Star Game in Ginowan, Okinawa, when he penetrated in the lane and stepped awkwardly on Niigata Albirex BB forward Matt Garrison's foot.

He didn't return to the game.

Tennichi said he is uncertain of Washington's exact timetable to return to the lineup but hopes he'll be back on the court for next week's road games against the Takamatsu Five Arrows.

Washington is the league's third-leading scorer (22.5 points per game) and a terrific all-around player.

Even though he hasn't practiced this week, Washington, the bj-league's 2005-06 MVP, still remains a valuable contributor, offering emotional support for his teammates.

"He is obviously the leader of this team," Tennichi said by phone from Osaka. "He always is the leader in our practices and our games. He tried to encourage other players like (Hirotaka) Sato, a big man, before the practice yesterday."

What did the ex-Indiana University player tell Sato?

"You can grab seven rebounds and (score) five points," Tennichi said, recounting Washington's words about his challenge to Sato for this weekend's games.

Tennichi appreciates that encouragement.

"If that Japanese guy plays like that, he can help this team a lot," the coach said. "(Lynn) tries to get this team better and better every single time (at practice). That's what he is doing right now, but obviously he cannot play this week."

The first-place Evessa (16-6) play host to the Oita Heat Devils (12-10) on Saturday and Sunday as the bj-league resumes regular-season play.

In related news, Tennichi welcomes center Jeff Newton, an imposing inside force, back to the Osaka lineup this weekend. He missed the Jan. 21 game against the Tokyo Apache because of a knee injury.



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