/ |

Niigata’s Webb enjoys beef bowls, team camaraderie on, off court

Leads Albirex in individual scoring through eight games

by Ed Odeven

The Japan Times will be featuring periodic interviews with players in the bj-league — Japan’s first professional basketball circuit — which recently began its third season. Rodney Webb of the Niigata Albirex BB is the subject of this week’s profile.

News photoRodney Webb
NIIGATA ALBIREX/bj-league photo

Position: Forward
Age: 24
Ht: 201 cm
Wt: 100 kg
Hometown: Long Beach, Calif.
College: Florida Atlantic

Q: When did you begin to play basketball?

Webb: I was about 8 or 9 years old, but I didn’t start to play organized ball until freshman year of high school. I stayed under the radar the whole time until JUCO (junior college) at Long Beach City College.

When did you arrive in Japan? And what was preseason training like?

I got here Sept. 1. (The next several weeks) were “hell month.” We did a lot of running. I survived.

What’s the trademark of your team?

Teamwork. It’s like a family, and that carries itself off the court. That’s a characteristic I actually like about the team.

Who’s the most difficult player on your team to defend in practice?

(He discussed forward Daiki Terashita and shooting guard Kimitake Sato during our phone interview last Monday.)

Kimi’s probably the quickest when he takes his one-on-one dribble. Tara’s very hard to stay in front of sometimes. Both are very quick; that’s a close one.

What’s most appealing to you about living in Japan?

The people are very polite over here. That’s definitely a change from when I was in France (Webb spent last season playing in the French League’s B division, as well as for the ABA’s Lake Falls club.)

The food is OK. It’s definitely not what I’m used to. Beef bowls are my favorite (the team’s public relations director laughs when she hears this).

How would you describe Albirex coach Masaya Hirose?

He’s so passionate about basketball. He loves to teach. I love to learn. He’s so energetic, and he’s a good guy, too. That’s a good combination.

I’ve learned a lot of stuff. He’s helped me take my game to another level.

So how has Hirose helped you improve your game? Give an example.

He’s helped me with my post moves, footwork (and) which pivot to swing with. I did it the opposite way in junior college.

(Webb is Niigata’s leading scorer through eight games. He’s averaging 18.5 points per game.)

How would you rate your individual performance this season?

I’m happy just not satisfied yet. I feel I’ve got a whole lot more I can do.

What words have others used to describe your style of play?

Hyper (he laughs). They say I’m a hard worker. That’s the main thing I hear.

What motivates you as a player every time you step onto the hardwood?

Since junior college, I’ve been trying to prove myself the whole time. I’ve been flying under the radar.

Who’s your favorite player in the NBA?

Kobe Bryant. It’s just fun to see what he’s doing. . . He’s got a lot of moves.

The Japan Times’ hourlong online sports chat returns this week. James Mulligan will chat about soccer on Tuesday. Ed Odeven will host the basketball chat on Dec. 11. Visit www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/chat_entry.html#schedule for more details.