There are currently 6797 ex-college players, who play 2014-15 season overseas
BLOGS of pro basketball players overseas
Behind the backboard: the truth about life overseas
*the number is for both men and women players, who play outside of the U.S. (updated on 7/26/2015) Check Detailed list by College or by country
| JPBL to face many challenges from inaugural season- Jul.23, 2015 (by Emeka)|
Japan times can authoritatively report that, unlike the J. League in the early 1990s, the Japan Professional Basketball League will not be an immediate success story when it tips off in the fall of 2016.The stars were aligned for the J. League to shine brightly, including the obvious appetite for another team sport to vie with the stagnant Nippon Professional Baseball for public interest.There are deep-rooted problems that plague Japanese basketball. And it's unrealistic to believe that e... [read more]
Japan times can authoritatively report that, unlike the J. League in the early 1990s, the Japan Professional Basketball League will not be an immediate success story when it tips off in the fall of 2016.
The stars were aligned for the J. League to shine brightly, including the obvious appetite for another team sport to vie with the stagnant Nippon Professional Baseball for public interest.
There are deep-rooted problems that plague Japanese basketball. And it's unrealistic to believe that everything will neatly fall into place in 14 months.
There are too many teams (35 combined clubs competed in the NBL and bj-league during the 2014-15 season; several of them have been dealing with severe financial problems; others have nearly folded, including the NBL's Tsukuba Robots), and too many 'home' venues.
On the other hand, there's not enough coverage of basketball in the vernacular dailies and sports newspapers. It can't be described as a major focal point of news coverage. It barely gets any ink (or online coverage) most days of the calendar year. And there isn't a rich tradition of major TV coverage over the past several decades.
As a result, the general public has a very limited knowledge about the men who are employed to play the game in this country. Indeed, for the nearly 130 million residents of Japan, very few can rattle off the names of even 10 players in the two leagues.
For the JPBL, what kind of marketing campaign can be built around a collection of players who are not marquee names?
Compounding the problem is this: Japan's men have failed to qualify for the Olympics since 1976. Which means the sport is often an afterthought to a large percentage of the population.
In time, fan favorites will emerge in the JPBL. But there's no magic formula to raise the sport's profile. It will take hard work, strategic planning and savvy marketing - and a dose of good luck, the rise of stars who'll captivate the public and attract media coverage.
It remains to be seen who will emerge as the key movers and shakers alongside Saburo Kawabuchi, the Japan 2024 Task Force co-chairman and new Japan Basketball Association president.
The good news, though, is that Kawabuchi led the J.League in its infancy and has experience running the Japan Football Association. For Kawabuchi, both experiences will be vital to draw upon.
There will be major setbacks and a rough road ahead for the sport, but forcing the independent bj-league and the NBL and NBDL, both backed by the JBA, to combine forces was a necessary step. Credit FIBA, the sport's global governing body, for having the guts to do this. It applied the pressure and handed Japan's hoop leaders a necessary dose of reality and humiliation.
If FIBA hadn't meted out a global suspension to the JBA last November, there's no way the JPBL would've been on track for its launch in Ocober 2016. The status quo would've remained in place for several years - maybe decades.
Too many teams have little (or no) stability in the coaching ranks, either. This has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on a team's chances of building longterm success and developing players as well.
Exhibit A: For the 2015-16 campaign, 14 of 22 bj-league teams - plus the first-year expansion clubs, Hiroshima Lightning and Kanazawa Samuraiz - will have new bench bosses in their first season at the helm. This reflects poorly on those calling the shots.
Top-division assignment: It's just days away from the task force's announcement of 10 of the planned 12-16 teams for the top division. The first 10 are expected to be revealed by July 30, and then the task force plans to reveal the rest of the teams to fill the spots in August.
Another 16-24 teams are slated to compete in the second division of this promotion-relegation system, with the rest set to be lumped together in the third flight.
Recognizing that a franchise's past success, home region, available venues and economic well-being are all factors that have been analyzed by the task force, I believe the following NBL clubs are likely entrants into the top division: defending champion Aisin SeaHorses, Hitachi Sunrockers, Link Tochigi Brex, Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins, Toshiba Brave Thunders and Toyota Alvark.
By the way, the Chiba Jets should be assigned to the top division, too. Hiring Zeljko Pavlicevic, a former Japan national team bench boss, as their new coach this summer, the Jets have a world-renown mentor with an impressive track record of success. Having Pavlicevic's team in the top division will raise the bar for coaching in the league.
A case can also be made to have the Levanga Hokkaido, who have had a history of cash woes, in the top flight to give the new league a presence on Japan's northernmost island.
So that's eight teams from the NBL, I submit.
From the bj-league, I make the case for the Akita Northern Happinets (title runnerup in 2013-14 and 2014-15), reigning champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix (also with three titles on their bj-league resume), Niigata Albirex BB, Osaka Evessa (the circuit's original dynasty team; winners of three straight titles in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08), Ryukyu Golden Kings (three-time champions) and Sendai 89ers.
That gives us 14 teams.
A few more bj-league squads warrant serious consideration: Kyoto Hannaryz, Shiga Lakestars and Toyama Grouses, all perennial playoff participants in recent years. (But I wouldn't expect the task force to pick more than two of 'em.)
Are the cash-strapped Yokohama B-Corsairs capable of competing in the top division?
If so, will Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium be regularly available to host their games?
The NBL's Hiroshima Dragonflies are entering their second season, and an argument could be made that a city the size of Hiroshima (population: 1.1 million) ought to have a top-flight squad, too.
Kyushu doesn't have a team with the popularity or past success to make the cut for the first division. The NBL's Kumamoto Volters went 6-48 last season, while the bj-league's Rizing Fukuoka were 13-39, and the Oita HeatDevils were 18-34 and are now dubbed the Oita Ehime HeatDevils after their company relocated to Shikoku island.
| Suzuki takes charge at Kanazawa- Jun.20, 2015 (by Emeka)|
Yukinori Suzuki, who guided the Oita HeatDevils for the past four seasons, was named the first head coach in Kanazawa Samuraiz history on Thursday.The expansion team will make its bj-league debut for the 2015-16 season, the circuit's final scheduled season before the launch of the JPBL, a three-tier entity consisting of 40-something NBL, bj-league and NBDL squads, a year later.ADVERTISINGLooking at the next chapter of his basketball career, Suzuki acknowledged that 'my job, of course, is... [read more]
Yukinori Suzuki, who guided the Oita HeatDevils for the past four seasons, was named the first head coach in Kanazawa Samuraiz history on Thursday.
The expansion team will make its bj-league debut for the 2015-16 season, the circuit's final scheduled season before the launch of the JPBL, a three-tier entity consisting of 40-something NBL, bj-league and NBDL squads, a year later.
Looking at the next chapter of his basketball career, Suzuki acknowledged that 'my job, of course, is to strengthen the team.'
In a team-issued statement, he also said 'the team and the front office must work together' to build the Samuraiz.
The cash-strapped HeatDevils, ended a seven-season postseason drought in May, but finished 18-34 in the regular season for the team's eighth straight losing campaign.
In four seasons, Suzuki compiled an 82-126 regular-season record.
Suzuki, 38, played in the backcourt for the JBL's Niigata Albirex BB from 2001-05 before joining Oita. The next spring, he was named to the bj-league's Best Five Team during its first season.
A three-time All-Star in the upstart circuit, Suzuki retired in 2011 and took over Oita's coaching duties. The HeatDevils went 23-29 in the Kanagawa Prefecture native's first season at the helm, followed by 21-31 and 20-32 seasons before the aforementioned 18-victory campaign.
Meanwhile, the HeatDevils are scheduled to be based in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, next season.
Aiming for the NBA: Forward Olu Ashaolu, who sank the championship-clinching shot with 3.1 seconds to play for the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix in the bj-league finale on May 24, is participating in Toronto Raptors' two-day free agent minicamp, which started on Thursday.
The camp is in Toronto, the 27-year-old Ashaolu's hometown.
He was born in Lagos and competed for Louisiana Tech and the University of Oregon before his pro career began in 2012.
Competing in the minicamp could boost Ashaolu's chances to be picked to play in the upcoming NBA Summer League.
Ashaolu played for the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2012 NBA Summer League. Current Hamamatsu coach Tomoya Higashino was an assistant for the Bucks at the camp.
The 200-cm Ashaolu averaged 14.9 points in 52 regular-season games this season for the Phoenix.
| Akita, Iwate, Hamamatsu, Shiga advance to Final Four- May.12, 2015 (by Emeka)|
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]
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 second straight season, while the Phoenix will appear in the playoffs' final weekend for the first time since 2012.
The bj-league's 10th annual championship weekend will be held May 23-24 at Ariake Colosseum.
On May 23, the West final is scheduled for 1:10 p.m., followed by the East final at 5:10 p.m.
The same times are slated for the third-place contest and title tilt a day later.
(1) Northern Happinets 82, (4) Albirex BB 63 (Game 2)
Northern Happinets 19, Albirex 18 (Game 3, 10-minute tiebreaker)
In Akita, the hosts outplayed Niigata in Game 2 to force the tiebreaker, then won by the slimmest of margins to punch a ticket to the Final Four.
In the mini-game, Deshawn Stephens led the Northern Happinets with nine points on 4-for-4 shooting. Shigehiro Taguchi chipped in with seven points, including a big 3-pointer. Richard Roby had Akita's three other points in the 10-minute tiebreaker and a pair of blocked shots.
Six Albirex players scored in the mini-game. Stephan Van Treese was the high scorer with four points.
For Niigata, one of the league's two charter teams as a JBL defector (along with the Saitama Broncos), another opportunity to vie for a spot in the title game for the first time since 2006 came to a disappointing end.
Earlier, in the regulation game, Ruben Boykin had 18 points for Akita, which took a 36-28 lead into halftime and extended its advantage to 64-47 entering the fourth quarter.
Roby scored 16 points in the must-win contest with five assists and Taguchi and Yuto Otsuka both put 14 points on the board. Otsuka dished out six assists in the win.
Kimitake Sato and Van Treese were Niigata's high scorers in Game 2.
The Albirex ended their season with a 39-18 overall record, including the playoffs.
In a post-game interview, Boykin commended the effort of both teams.
'First I would say Niigata played a hell of a game,' Boykin told The Japan Times. 'Both teams deserved to win. Our team showed a lot of heart in the second and third games .
'In the third game we were down 9-1 to start and a lot of times this season we would fold, but our guys stuck together and it showed a lot of character. Deshawn and Shige stepped up so much in the final game. Deshawn had nine huge points in five minutes and Shige seven points and five big rebounds and one big putback to win the game Man, I'm just very happy right now.'
(2) Big Bulls 111, (6) Wat's 57
In Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, the Big Bulls, who matched Akita for the East's best record (41-11) during the regular season, overwhelmed Aomori in the series finale.
The Big Bulls, a fourth-year franchise, triumphed in overtime on Saturday, but never let the Wat's (25-31 overall) get within striking distance in this one.
Iwate led by 12 points after the opening quarter and by 22 at halftime.
In a dominating third quarter, the Big Bulls outscored the visitors 25-10 to pull ahead 76-42.
All told, Iwate outscored Aomori 57-25 in the second half.
'This is a big win for the Iwate Big Bulls and our boosters,' Iwate coach Dai Oketani told The Japan Times after the game. 'We couldn't make it to go to Ariake, even (though) we played in our home the last two seasons. Now, we broke through. To my players, everybody played their role. Everybody played hard, everybody played tough, and everybody played together.'
Oketani, a two-time title winner while coaching Ryukyu, called it a 'great team win.'
Scootie Randall led Iwate with 26 points and Gonzaga University alum Abdullahi Kuso scored 20 on 9-for-12 shooting. Wayne Arnold and Shota Onodera both had 12-point performances. Jun Nakanishi and Masato Tsukino contributed 10 and nine points, respectively. Lawrence 'Trend' Blackledge finished with eight points, eight rebounds and six assists in the rout.
Eight Iwate players had at least one steal, with six collecting two or more. Arnold led the team, which racked up 17 steals, with four.
The Big Bulls shot 60.5 percent from inside the arc and drained 13 of 27 3s. They doled out 21 assists against six turnovers.
Gyno Pomare, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds, was Aomori's lone double-digit scorer.
The Wat's turned the ball over 23 times.
Blackledge said reaching the Final Four is a part of the team's ultimate goal.
' (It's) just another step towards our goal of winning a championship,' Blackledge told this newspaper. 'It's great for the people of Iwate to get to experience Ariake. But just getting there is part of the process. Half of our roster have been to Ariake before and/or have won the championship before so we are still focused on the final mission.'
Arnold said, 'It's great to be a part of the first team in this franchise's history to reach the Final Four, but that was never our goal. We talk all season about winning the championship.
'The trophy is our only focus. This is just another step in the right direction.'
Nakanishi, who has played in the league since his 2005 debut with the now-defunct Tokyo Apache, called the team's weekend victories a big deal.
'It means a lot for not only myself but the whole Iwate Big Bulls organization, fans, and Iwate Prefecture,' Nakanishi said, 'I know this team has been through the tough situations, losing in the conference semifinals two seasons in a row. Finally making our way to Ariake is great, but we haven't accompished anything yet.
'Our ultimate goal is to win two more games at Ariake and get the championship. But I will celebrate today's victory and making my sixth appearance in the finals, which I don't think too many bj-league players have accomplished.'
(1) Hannaryz 81, (4) Lakestars 73 (Game 2)
Lakestars 25, Hannaryz 20 (Game 3, tiebreaker)
In Kyoto, after a defeat in the series opener, the regular-season conference champion Hannaryz bounced back with a Game 2 victory to force the tiebreaker.
In the mini-game, Shiga forward Ray Nixon was the high scorer with eight points and Yutaka Yokoe had six. The Lakestars shot 100 percent from long range in the 10-minute contest, with Nixon, Terrance Woodbury and Yu Okada all making their lone attempt.
Kyoto's Ryan Forehan-Kelly and David Palmer combined for 15 points in the team's final game, the former scoring 10.
With the loss, the Hannaryz (47-10) won't extend their streak to four straight Final Four appearances.
Forehan-Kelly was the top scorer in Game 2 for both teams, finishing with 25 points. Kyoto veterans Reggie Warren and Palmer each scored 20 points.
After Shiga star Jeff Parmer lit up the scoreboard for 25 points on 11-for-12 shooting in Game 1, the hosts held him to seven points on 3-for-8 shooting in the scheduled rematch.
Okada and Woodbury both had 18 points, Chris Holm added 11 and Yokoe 10.
Lakestars coach Koto Toyama, 32, who is leading his fourth franchise in as many seasons after stops at Nara (2013-14), Ryukyu (2012-13) and Miyazaki (2010-12), has led a team to the Final Four for the first time in his coaching career.
'Today's victory meant everything for us as a team and organization,' Parmer told The Japan Times. 'We really played as a team today. We knew coming in that teamwork was the only way to beat a team like Kyoto. We accomplished that, along with the help and support of our awesome boosters. They really deserved this win today.'
(3) Phoenix 70, (2) Golden Kings 63
In Okinawa City, University of Oregon product Olu Ashaolu sparked Hamamatsu with 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a series-clinching victory over reigning champion Ryukyu.
Tasuku Namizato had a 15-point game, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range, and Mo Charlo contributed 10 points and seven rebounds for the Phoenix (45-11). Nile Murry, the hero of Game 1 with a buzzer-beating OT jumper, added nine points and Shingo Okada six.
'It's a step in the right direction,' Murry said of eliminating the Okinawan powerhouse and reaching the Final Four. 'We have an opportunity to do something special.'
Hamamatsu bench boss Tomoya 'Coach Crusher' Higashino is leading a team into the bj-league Final Four for the first time.
Anthony McHenry scored 15 points with nine rebounds and four assists for the Golden Kings (44-13). Draelon Burns and Narito Namizato, Tasuku's younger brother, supplied 12 and nine points, respectively. Big man Kibwe Trim provided eight points and 11 rebounds.
Ryukyu was 14 of 23 at the free-throw line and 5 of 18 from 3-point range.
| Shiga's Toyama relies on mentor to improve Lakestars Apr.10, 2015 |
| Karimata, Jones carry Fukushima past Yokohama Mar.31, 2015 |
| Akita overcome struggling Tokyo Dec.19, 2014 |
| Shiga outplays Gunma in first bj-league contest for ex-NBA coach Parker, center Ely Oct.11, 2014 |
| Alvark hold off Kings spirited comeback Sep.6, 2014 |
| Gunma hires longtime NBA assistant Parker as new coach Aug.2, 2014 |
| Isa to lead champion Ryukyu again next season Jun.26, 2014 |
| Golden Kings dismantle Happinets in bj-league final As Kishimoto is named MVP May.26, 2014 |
| Brave Warriors avenge loss to 89ers Apr.21, 2014 |
| Nakama set to retire Apr.21, 2014 |
| Iwate cruises past Gunma, keeps victory streak alive Apr.21, 2014 |
| Joho powers Grouses past Evessa Mar.18, 2014 |
| East power Akita decides to make roster move: source Feb.7, 2014 |
| Shimizu leads HeatDevils past Hannaryz Jan.9, 2014 |
| Shimane struggling after departure of coach, top star Jan.9, 2014 |
| Akita making run for title Dec.8, 2013 |
| D-League teams draft five bj-league alumni Nov.6, 2013 |
| Murry leads Niigata past previously unbeaten Toyama Nov.6, 2013 |
| B-Corsairs slump to defeat against Big Bulls Nov.6, 2013 |
| Alvark beat Brex to get NBL up and running Oct.3, 2013 |
| Players react after NBL takes unilateral action Oct.3, 2013 |
| Nakamuras coaching tree stretches throughout league Sep.2, 2013 |
| Hitachi Sunrockers sign Darryl Webb Jul.28, 2013 |
| Kyoto set to join NBL for 2014-15 season Jul.22, 2013 |
| Yokohama to name Katsuhisa coach Jul.22, 2013 |
| Nara selects Toyama as first coach Jun.23, 2013 |
| Kyoto acquires forward Komoda Jun.23, 2013 |
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