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Aoki OKs new deal

by Ed Odeven

As expected, Motofumi Aoki will be back on the bench for the Takamatsu Five Arrows for the 2008-09 season, the bj-league announced on Thursday.

The only coach in franchise history, Aoki has guided the Five Arrows to a 55-29 regular-season record since the team joined the bj-league two seasons ago.

Aoki, who was the bj-league’s Coach of the Year in 2006-07, led the team to the title game in his first season at the helm, successfully molding a solid nucleus of young Japanese talent, including sharpshooter Yu Okada, and dynamic U.S. talent — point guard Rasheed Sparks and hard-nosed power forward Reggie Warren — in a hurry.

Aoki then led his team to a second-place finish in the ultra-tough Western Conference this past season, the first in which the league adopted a two-conference format. Takamatsu (30-14) finished one game behind the Osaka Evessa, the three-time defending champion, but was upset at home on April 20 by the Rizing Fukuoka in the wild-card round.