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Saturday, July 31, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE

Apache finalize four more player contracts


Staff Writer

A day after announcing the signing of teenage forward Jeremy Tyler — a story that appeared on hundreds of Web sites around the world — the Tokyo Apache added a few more pieces to the puzzle on Friday.

Veteran forward Michael Chappell, a former Michigan State and Duke player, agreed to a one-year deal for the upcoming season.

Chappell, a capable 3-point shooter, also played for the bj-league's Sendai 89ers in the 2006-07 season. Before returning to Japan, he spent one season in Australia and another year playing for a team in Ukraine.

The easy-going 32-year-old has also collected paychecks as a pro player in New Zealand and Portugal.

"Mike's international career is what brought him to the Apache and we are glad that we are able to keep him here," Apache general manager Conor Neu said in a statement. "He is a true veteran and professional and leads by example."

Chappell averaged 12.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season.

The team also signed Kensuke Tanaka, Minoru Kimura and Reina Itakura, all of whom played their first seasons in Tokyo last season.

Itakura, acquired in the trade that sent standout guard Masashi Joho to the Shiga Lakestars just days before the 2009-10 season began, often started at small forward under ex-coach Motofumi Aoki.

A scrappy player known for his hustle, Itakura began his career in the JBL in 2004. He spent four seasons with the Toshiba Brave Thunders before joining the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins in 2008 and spending one season with the team. He averaged 4.1 ppg for Tokyo.

Tanaka, a Shizuoka native and Nippon Sports Science University product, and Kimura, who hails from Kanagawa Prefecture and attended Toyo University, both received limited playing time, though.

In essence, they were practice players for most of the season.

The Apache, who went 22-30 last season and were knocked out of the playoffs by eventual champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, now have 11 players locked up for the 2010-11 campaign.

Bob Hill, who has coached four NBA teams during a lengthy career, will begin his first season with the Apache in October.



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