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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE

Akita signs native son Hasegawa


Staff writer

The bj-league coaching carousel continues.

News photo
Going home: Longtime Niigata Albirex BB guard Makoto Hasegawa has signed with the bj-league's expansion Akita Northern Happinets. NIIGATA ALBIREX BB/bj-league

In a flurry of activity in the hours before Tuesday's 2010 draft, the Tokyo Apache, now under new American ownership, fired coach Motofumi Aoki after a one-year stint as bench boss.

Tokyo went 22-30 under Aoki. Overall, Aoki's teams have gone 110-78 in the bj-league, including his three years with the Takamatsu Five Arrows.

The Shiga Lakestars, meanwhile, made ex-assistant Takatoshi Ishibashi the second head coach in team history.

Ishibashi, who turns 42 in September, was the Toyama Grouses coach from December 2008 until the end of the team's 11-41 season. He had replaced interim coach Hirokazu Nema, who stepped in for a month as the sideline supervisor after Masato Fukushima was dismissed following the team's 3-7 start.

The expansion Akita Northern Happinets gave Makoto Hasegawa, who played point guard for the Niigata Albirex BB since 2002, a leadership position with the new team.

Hasegawa, a native of Akita Prefecture, will play next season, and serve as a team supervisor/adviser, according to Jun Kuwabara, the Happinets' director of operations.

Hasegawa's playing time diminished this past season after splitting point guard duties over in the previous season with talented up-and-comer Akitomo Takeno. (He played only 114 minutes in 15 games in 2009-10.)

The Happinets still have a coaching vacancy. The other two expansion teams for the 2010-11 season have already chosen coaches.

The Miyazaki Shining Suns hired Koto Toyama, a 27-year-old former Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix assistant coach, on May 23.

News photo
New challenge: Point guard Jun Nakanishi (left), playing for Osaka last season, was the Akita Northern Happinets' top pick in Tuesday's bj-league expansion draft. KAZ NAGATSUKA

The Shimane Susanoo Magic hired ex-Japan national team coach Zeljko Pavlicevic last month. The 59-year-old Croatian is considered one of the top coaches in Euroleague history.

The 39-year-old Hasegawa's popularity was at its peak in the 1990s. He starred for a trio of defunct JBL teams — the Matsushita Electric Super Kangaroos, the Zexel Blue Winds and the Isuzu Giga Cats — and played for the San Diego WildFire of the relaunched ABA earlier this century. He was the JBL's MVP in 1994 during his rookie season.

One SportsNavi.com blogger predicted that Hasegawa will become an ambassador for the Happinets in their infancy.

"I think he could become like Tsuyoshi Shinjo became . . . the driving force behind the success of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to build roots in the local area," the blogger wrote.

The Osaka Evessa and the aforementioned Apache and Five Arrows have coaching vacancies, while the Oita HeatDevils have not yet offered Brian Rowsom a new contract despite his leading the team to a 25-27 record a season removed from an 8-44 campaign.

2010 draft recap

The Happinets selected veteran guard Jun Nakanishi with the first pick in the expansion draft.

Nakanishi played for the Osaka Evessa this season. He averaged 4.3 points in 48 games (41 starts). He has previously played for the Rizing Fukuoka and the Apache.

Guard Ryosuke Mizumachi, who appeared in 35 games for the HeatDevils this season, was also drafted by Akita. He averaged 1.2 ppg.

The Susanoo Magic picked up Tokyo forward Shoji Nakanishi, a veteran of two championship runnerup teams (2007-08 and 2008-09 under former coach Joe Bryant). Nakanishi played in 44 games in 2009-10, averaging 6.2 ppg, including a season-best 17-point output on Oct. 14. Known for his 3-point shooting range, Nakanishi drained 49 of 144 shots from beyond the arc this season.

The Shining Suns selected small forward Yuta Kojima, who played for the Lakestars in 2009-10. He participated in 47 games and averaged 4.7 ppg.

In the annual rookie draft, held at a Tokyo hotel, Shimane made 25-year-old Tatsuhiro Yokoo, a Meiji University product and ex-Hitachi Sunrockers player, the No. 1 pick.

Miyazaki made Takuro Ito the No. 2 selection. The 183-cm guard was on the Phoenix's championship roster in 2009-10. He made his season debut for Hamamatsu in February and played in 25 games (20 starts). He attended Takushoku University.

Niigata acquired Akita's third pick in a trade and selected Hirotaka Kondo, a former Tenri University and Panasonic Trians player. He averaged 2.8 ppg for the JBL's Trians this season.

Senshu University product Masaaki Suzuki went to the Takamatsu Five Arrows with the No. 4 pick.

The Evessa chose talented guard Masashi Obuchi, who scored 10.5 ppg in 22 games for the Ryukyu Golden Kings, with the fifth pick. The Gunma Prefecture native will participate in the NBA Development League's national tryout later this week in Virginia.

The final selection of the first round went to the Sendai 89ers, who selected Takuya Komoda. The 22-year-old attended Fukuoka University.

In the second round, Yuki Nobuhira, formerly of Hosei University, was picked by Akita.

Following league draft regulations, the Grouses, Lakestars, HeatDevils and Rizing Fukuoka opted to not draft a rookie player.

In the subsequent development draft, eight players were chosen, and the Broncos, Apache, HeatDevils, Lakestars, Rizing, 89ers, Albirex, Golden Kings and reigning champion Phoenix didn't make a pick.

Shimane made Yasuhisa Hikino, a 187-cm Tokoha Gakuen University product, the No. 1 pick in the development draft.

Makoto Sawaguchi, 18, went No. 2 to Akita. The Morioka South High School product is a 184-cm, 80-kg player.

Guard Shinnosuke Oishi, who saw action in 15 games for Sendai this past season, went third to Miyazaki.

The Five Arrows didn't select a player with the No. 4 pick, a trend that followed for the teams listed above.

At No. 5, Toyama picked Rikkyo University's Takashi Okazaki, and Kyoto Sangyo University's Tatsuya Kikuchi was selected by the Hannaryz. The final first-round choice was Kinki University's Goki Kitamura, who went to the Evessa.

In the development draft's second round, Shimane made the lone pick: Edward Yamamoto, a Daito Bunka University product.

Individual team tryouts will be held for many players who aim to earn a contract for next season.



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