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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE

Toyama named first coach of Shining Suns


Staff writer

The Miyazaki Shining Suns, one of three bj-league expansion teams for the 2010-11 season, have hired the youngest head coach in league history, it was announced on Monday.

News photo
Koto Toyama MIYAZAKI SHINING SUNS / bj-league

Koto Toyama, who turned 27 in January, has been named the team's first coach, said Shunsaku Kamada, president of Miyazaki Energy Create Inc., the team's company.

Toyama served as an assistant coach for the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix for the past two seasons. He worked under head coach Kazuo Nakamura, 69, who guided the Phoenix to the bj-league title with a dominating performance against the Osaka Evessa on Sunday.

"As a young coach, I would like to build a hard-working and focused team that attracts people and shines like the sun," Toyama said in a statement. "I would like to communicate with people in Miyazaki Prefecture via basketball to build a team.

"Let's make a tough team that can overcome all the difficulties we face," he added. "I thank Miyazaki for choosing me for this important position and we will make every effort for Miyazaki."

A native of Asahikawa, Hokkaido Prefecture, Toyama played college basketball at Sapporo University and participated in the All-Japan Intercollegiate Basketball Championship in four straight seasons (2001-04). He was the team captain at the national tournament in 2004.

After finishing college, Toyama joined the JBL's OSG Phoenix and served as a team manager from 2005-08. He was promoted to assistant coach when the team joined the bj-league in 2008.

Last week, the expansion Shimane Susanoo Magic hired ex-Japan national team bench boss Zeljko Pavlicevic, who has won a pair of Euroleague titles during a distinguished coaching career, as their first coach. The 59-year-old Croatian attended the bj-league's Final Four over the weekend.

The Akita Northern Happinets, the other new expansion club, have not yet named a coach.

Other coaching hires will be made during the offseason in the 16-team league.

The Shiga Lakestars have a coaching vacancy after Bob Pierce's contract was not renewed. The Kyoto Hannaryz, who just wrapped up their first season, are not expected to name acting head coach Kazuto Aono as David Benoit's permanent replacement after a disappointing 17-35 campaign.

There are rumors swirling around the nation that Tokyo Apache coach Motofumi Aoki will not return to the team for a second season, and speculation that the Toyama Grouses' Charles Johnson will not be back as the club's bench boss.

The Takamatsu Five Arrows, who are run by Sports Project Takamatsu, declared bankruptcy on May 14. Ex-NBA player John Neumann, currently in Moldova with his family, will not return to coach the team. Furthermore, there's no guarantee the Five Arrows will come up with the necessary cash to field a team next season.



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