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Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007


Albirex's Ikeda, Evessa's Hatano lead voting for bj-league All-Star Game

Staff writer

Niigata Albirex BB forward Yuichi Ikeda and Osaka Evessa forward Kazuya Hatano are the leading vote-getters for the 2007-08 bj-league All-Star Game, the league announced on Tuesday.

Fan balloting was used to selected the 10 starting players for the Dec. 29 game in Niigata.

Ikeda received 15,310 votes, while Hatano got 15,059.

Fans selected Ikeda, Sendai 89ers center Patrick Whearty, Albirex forward Matt Garrison, Tokyo Apache guard Cohey Aoki and Toyama Grouses guard Takanori Goya to start for the Eastern Conference, which will be guided by Albirex coach Masaya Hirose.

For the Western Conference, guided by Evessa's two-time champion coach Kensaku Tennichi, the fans chose Takamatsu Five Arrows center George Leach, Hatano and the Evessa's Jeff Newton at forward and Naoto Takushi of the Ryukyu Golden Kings and Tsuyoshi Kawazura of the Rizing Fukuoka in the backcourt.

The league's coaches chose five reserves for each conference squad.

The Eastern Conference reserves are Sendai guard Hikaru Kusaka and Niigata guard Naoto Kosuge, Niigata forward Rodney Webb, Saitama Broncos guard Taishiro Shimizu and Saitama power forward Gordon James.

For the West, the backups are as follows: Takamatsu power forward Reggie Warren and Five Arrows guard Yu Okada, Fukuoka forward Joshua Peppers, Oita Heat Devils guard Yukinori Suzuki and Oita big man Andy Ellis.

In addition, the league announced its Slam Dunk participants. Kosuge and Toyama Grouses guards Yoshihiro Tachibana and Robby Joyner, rebounding dynamo James and Five Arrows guard Satoshi Takeda and Rasheed Sparks will participate.

The 3-Point Shootout contestants are Aoki, Kusaka, Peppers, Okada, Suzuki and Garrison, who won the inaugural contest at the 2006-07 All-Star Game in January in Ginowan, Okinawa.

In other league news, Albirex BB point guard Takamichi Fujiwara was named the Circle K Sunkus Player of the Week.

On Saturday, Fujiwara had 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the Albirex's 99-85 victory over the Evessa. A day later, had 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals, helping Niigata earn an 81-80 win and sweep Osaka.

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