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Saturday, July 2, 2011

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Changing conferences: Honoo Hamaguchi, head coach of the Sendai 89ers for the past six seasons, is the new bench boss of the Kyoto Hannaryz. KAZ NAGATSUKA PHOTO

Hamaguchi takes reins in Kyoto after six seasons in Sendai

Staff writer

With conflicting emotions, Honoo Hamaguchi decided to move forward and take on a new challenge.

The Kyoto Hannaryz introduced Hamaguchi as their new head coach on Friday morning.

Following an official signing ceremony during a news conference in Kyoto, the ex-Sendai 89ers coach spoke about his feelings, which comprised a range of emotions.

"I'm certainly excited as I've officially signed with the club," Hamaguchi said. "We only have six Japanese players on our roster at this point, but it's a good mixture of veterans and youngsters. We'll aim at the championship, building a group that's deeply rooted in the local area."

Hamaguchi had led the 89ers in the previous six seasons from the bj-league's inaugural season in 2005-06. He guided the Tohoku team to four playoff berths, while helping it finish third during the 2007-08 campaign.

Sendai was forced out of action after the Tohoku earthquake during the 2010-11 season. All the players and coaches, including Hamaguchi, were released from their contracts in the wake of the disaster.

Asked if he feels any regrets or even remorse about leaving the only club he had been with in the bj-league, Hamaguchi said that he owes the 89ers club for leaving some goals unachieved.

"I never led the team to a championship in the six years," the 41-year-old said. "We were having a good season (until the disaster), so I feel like there is something that I've left behind. I have a regret for that."

Kyoto, which will start its third season in the league this October, had a 28-20 record and finished in fifth place in the Western Conference, advancing to its first postseason (where it lost in the first round) last season.

Hamaguchi said that his personal philosophy is to put the emphasis on defense and the Hannaryz would build around it in the 2011-12 season.

"We're going to play concrete defense first," he said. "But this team has good athletes and showed scoring ability last year, so we would like to keep that, too."

Kyoto president Takafumi Tatara said Hamaguchi is an established commander on the sidelines with a colorful approach to the game.

"He has had a long coaching career and has always led his teams to respectable records," Tatara said. "He was a coach in college and the JBL as well as in the bj-league. We expect him to guide us in the right direction."

Meanwhile, the Shinshu Brave Warriors, one of the four expansion clubs entering the bj-league for the 2011-12 season, named Motofumi Aoki as the team's first-ever head coach on Thursday.

Aoki was previously the head coach of the Takamatsu Five Arrows and Tokyo Apache. He was named coach of the year for the 2006-07 season with Takamatsu, when his team advanced to the championship game.

In other news, the Akita Northern Happinets traded second-year player Makoto Sawaguchi to the Iwate Big Bulls on Friday for cash. Sawaguchi, a native of Iwate Prefecture, was the youngest player in the league last season and averaged 5.3 points per game.

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