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Rizing Fukuoka's Game-Winning turnaround. - Nov 9, 2012


POSTED BY:
EMEKA EKE
E-mail Emeka
Emeka's Articles

As reported by the Japan Times, Coach Atsushi Kanazawa's club triumphed twice last weekend against the Takamatsu Five Arrows to jump into fifth place in the 10-team Western Conference.

The Rizing are relying on mainstays Jun Nakanishi and Akitomo Takeno in the backcourt along with newcomers Josh Peppers, Julius Ashby and Reggie Warren for the majority of the team's production.

Also in the mix are rookie sharpshooter Zane Johnson, a University of Hawaii product, veterans Satoshi Ishitani and Masahiro Kano, along with relatively unknown Rintaro Tokunaga, Keisuke Takabatake and Junya Masumoto.

Warren was an integral part of Takamatsu and Kyoto Hannaryz playoff teams in years past, and Ashby has been to the Final Four as a member of the Five Arrows, Tokyo Apache and Niigata Albirex BB.

Peppers has made major contributions for the Sendai 89ers and Shiga Lakestars in the postseason, while Takeno and Nakanishi have also been tested in the playoffs while competing for

Niigata and Fukuoka for the former and Tokyo, Osaka Evessa and Fukuoka for the latter.

That veteran leadership has given the Rizing an edge in preparation compared with some teams without that collective experience of years spent in the bj-league.

"I think the key to our chemistry is getting a lot better each and every game," Warren told The Japan Times on Tuesday. "With me and Peppers joining the team late, I think that played a part in the slow start.

"We are all communicating to suggest different things to the coach, especially the leaders of the team with me and Jun being more of the vocal players adding a lot of input on what's going on, and coach actually listening and respecting our voice is key," added Warren, a power forward who's averaging 15.9 points and 12.5 rebounds with six double-doubles in eight games.

Peppers, averaging 18.6 ppg, is the team's top option on offense. Ashby, an athletic, forceful presence in the middle, is scoring at an 11.5 ppg clip. Takeno, one of the best pure shooters in league history, and Nakanishi, who has played in the fledgling circuit since 2005, are both contributing 9.6 ppg.

The players have not been shy about speaking out and saying what they think are keys for the team's success, Warren said.

"Everyone has respect for each other and we all have played many games in this league and understand how it works," he added, referring to the team's veteran corps. "I think we know and understand our roles and the younger guys are following our lead.

Johnson is currently nursing a sprained ankle, but has already made a strong impression during the young season's first month.

"The guy can flat-out shoot," Warren said, "and he's going to help us so much. If teams continue to try and double team me and Ashby, Zane will make them pay."

None of the current Rizing players have been on a bj-league championship team, and that motivates them to aim to be the best this season.

"We all talk about the same thing," Warren said. "All of us have the same goals: to reach the finals. I think this team has what it takes and is hungry for a title."
  



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The Final Four picture is now set, and it's a decidedly different look this year according to the Japan Times. Japan Times can authoritatively report that The Akita Northern Happinets and Iwate Big Bulls will represent the Eastern Conference, while the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix and Shiga Lakestars advanced from the Western Conference.The Big Bulls and Lakestars both earned their first trips to the Final Four. The Happinets, the 2013-14 championship runnerup squad, will return for a... [read more]
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