The Oita HeatDevils announced on Tuesday that Yukinori Suzuki has retired as a player and will take over as the bj-league team's new head coach.
"I am extremely honored that I will be able to act as the head coach of this team, where I've been as a player since this team was born," Suzuki said in a statement.
The 34-year-old Yokohama native has played for the Kyushu club since the inception of the league in 2005. Before his stint in the bj-league, Suzuki played for the Niigata Albirex of the JBL. He was a second-round pick by Oita, one of the six original members of the league, prior to the inaugural season.
Oita named American L.J. Hepp as the bench boss last season, but fired him before the season ended as he failed to convince three foreign players to stay in Japan after the March 11 earthquake.