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Friday, May 23, 2008

BJ-LEAGUE

Ryuku Golden Kings terminate Planells


Staff writer

The Ryukyu Golden Kings lost 34 of 44 games in their first season in the bj-league, finishing with the worst record in the five-team Western Conference. And Hernando Planells, who guided the team during its rocky first season will not return as head coach next season, The Japan Times has learned.

On Wednesday, Planells confirmed by telephone from Florida that he has been fired.

Planells, working as a scout for the NBA, is attending pre-draft workouts. He spoke off the record about the difficult season the team had, including the coach/front-office relationship, but declined to go into details.

The Golden Kings lost their final eight regular-season games. On 13 occasions Ryukyu lost by 10 points or less. Expansion teams often have similar struggles.

But the team's 2007 No. 1 draft pick, guard Naoto Takushi, who led the bj-league in assists, appears to have the athleticism and skills to be a star for years to come.

In a recent e-mail, Planells said he had a rewarding experience coaching the first-year team.

"As a coach, I grew tremendously, learning about the culture and how to coach in basically two different languages," Planells wrote. "I learned that when dealing with a translator I must keep my instruction short so that the players will understand better. I also learned a lot from the players, which to me is extremely important; they helped me get a better understanding about the league, the culture and about themselves."

He added: "Being an expansion team we had some ups and downs but we had some good wins and overall we developed. Of course, I would've loved for us to win more games.

"I think one of the things that hurt us was that we weren't able to pull out the close games . . . "

Ryukyu general manager Tatsuro Kimura confirmed the team will be hiring a new coach but wouldn't reveal other details when reached by telephone on Thursday.

The bj-league draft is scheduled for next Monday, so a new coach would probably be brought in during the summer to oversee the Japanese players' workout and offseason development program.

Planells is the second bj-league coach to be fired since the 2007-08 season ended. The Oita HeatDevils are looking for a new coach after dismissing Dai Oketani following the team's 19-25 season.

Planells, 31, has previously coached at the high school, college and pro ranks, including the American Basketball Association (ABA).



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