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Shimura values experience of first season in Sendai

Backup guard learns importance of all-out intensity on basketball court

by Kaz Nagatsuka

In the decisive game that ultimately made his season come to a disappointing end, Takehiko Shimura left too much gas in his tiny tank.

But he didn’t leave his head hanging in shame because this single game didn’t ruin his fruitful ride with the Sendai 89ers in the 2008-09 season.

“I preserved too much energy in the last 10 minutes,” the 160-cm backup point guard said with a bitter smile after the 89ers were eliminated from the bj-league playoffs on Sunday.

The Tokyo Apache defeated Sendai 79-78 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Ariake Colosseum.

Shimura didn’t look all that disappointed after the defeat, as if it was a state of mind after a regular-season game.

But he confessed that he struggled to psych himself up before the do-or-die contest as he was supposed to.

“Somehow, there was me that couldn’t put my heart into the game. There was me that was coolly observing it,” Shimura said. “It was a strange feeling. It was so difficult for me to switch my mind-set in this situation.

“I couldn’t get myself into a rhythm and (the game) came to an end like that.

“So I don’t even have a regret, because I didn’t do anything.”

He did, however, make an impact down the stretch on Sunday, though he ended up with only four points.

Shimura, who scored 11 in Game 1, sank an impressive basket from behind the 3-point arc with 9:12 to play in the fourth quarter, putting the 89ers ahead for the first time since early in the first quarter.

“Yeah, I was going to start my engine from there, though,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shimura had a melancholic feeling that he’s unlikely to be able to play with the same squad, including the staff members, next season because bj-league players don’t sign multiyear contracts. And there’s no guarantee he’ll return to the club next season.

“I love these guys,” he said. “I’d be sorry that I couldn’t play with them as a team any more.

“I’ve played in various places, but these guys are really good buddies. I’m so blessed to have met these wonderful buddies and have played with them in the last half-year.”

Shimura, who previously played for the Toshiba Brave Thunders of the Japan Basketball League, added that he enjoyed the fresh experience of his first season in the bj-league.

“Every single day, there was something new to me,” the 27-year-old said. “A lot of fans came out and I had a lot of good experiences. You don’t grow up unless you have good experiences. I spent such a productive year (with the team), and I felt that I was consistently growing up.”

Nothing is secure for Shimura, as mentioned above. But one thing is certain: He wants to return to the team for the 2009-10 season, and this time around, he vows to empty his tank at the end of games.

“If I could come back here next season, I’d like to come back, upgrading myself,” Shimura concluded. “Hopefully, I can use my energy more constantly.”