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Friday, June 25, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Apache name ex-NFLer Hetherington president


Staff writer

For the second time in their brief history, the Tokyo Apache have appointed a former pro athlete as the team's president.

Interestingly enough, neither man was a former basketball player.

Ex-NFL fullback Chris Hetherington, who played for the Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers, is the team's new president, Apache general manager Conor Neu announced in a news release earlier this week.

Former Seibu Lions pitcher Osamu Higashio became the Apache president in September 2006, only weeks before the team's second season.

A former quarterback at Yale, Hetherington, now 37, was an undrafted free agent pickup by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1996, and he spent seven weeks in training camp with the club before being released. Then he joined the Colts, whom he played for from 1996-98.

Hetherington was primarily a special teams player and a blocker during his 11-year career. He appeared in 126 games and made 22 starts. He had 23 of his 33 career rushes in 2000 while playing for the Panthers. He also had 50 career receptions.

After retiring from the NFL in 2006, Hetherington launched a second career with Evolution Capital Management, a global investment firm that purchased the Apache a few weeks ago.

Hetherington attended the Harvard Business School and Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and completed executive education programs at those schools, according to the release.

"Chris is a great leader with an immense passion for sports that will permeate through the entire Apache organization," Neu said. "He is committed to developing a world-class organization for our fans, players, coaches and sponsors."

The Apache, meanwhile, plan to hire a new coach in the coming weeks. Bob Hill, a veteran bench boss with four NBA head coaching gigs on his resume, is believed to be the top candidate and has been offered the position, as The Japan Times reported last week.

According to a West Coast-based source in the United States, Hill's potential hire would "certainly raise the bar for Japan coaches."

In the 2009-10 season, Tokyo went 22-30 and was eliminated by eventual champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs.

On the move: Rising star and point guard Akitomo Takeno, who played for the Niigata Albirex BB for the past two seasons, has been traded to the Rizing Fukuoka for cash.

It appears Albirex coach Masaya Hirose and Takeno did not see eye to eye, and the team didn't believe those issues could be solved.

"While we were trying to organize our team and make it have a better result than last season, we came to the conclusion that we could not keep Mr. Takeno on our club," Niigata president Akihito Hino said. "It was such a heartbreaking feeling to (make) this trade. Mr. Takeno attracted a lot of boosters in Niigata, and we believe he will excel in Fukuoka, his hometown, next season.

"We appreciate his great performance of the past two seasons and wish him luck in the future."

Takeno, who turns 25 in November, averaged 8.1 points in 20 games for the Rizing in 2007-08. He played in 52 games for the Albirex the next season while increasing his scoring average to 13.0.

He averaged 8.6 ppg this past season. . . ..

In related news, the Oita HeatDevils and guard Kohei Mitomo have agreed to terms on a contract for next season.

Mitomo had played for Oita from 2005-08 before joining Fukuoka for the 2008-09 season. He entered this past season with a career average of 6.6 pp, and then averaged 9.2 ppg for the Rizing, including a season-high output of 24.

Mitomo, one of the top reserves for Fukuoka, is known for his perimeter shooting and under Tadaharu Ogawa he had the green light to shoot 3-pointers on a regular basis. (He attempted 14 3-pointers — and made five of them — against the Shiga Lakestars on Dec. 14.)

The last word: "We're looking forward to a different road to Ariake with a new coach and new team members. You should feel positive in knowing that your captain is back. We have always visited Ariake since the beginning and we always will as long as I am playing. Come and join the team as we fight for another championship." — Osaka captain/power forward Lynn Washington, whose contract was finalized for the 2010-11 season on Thursday.



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