Point guard Yuta Tabuse, the only Japanese ever to have played in the NBA, said Saturday he is aiming to make a comeback to the world’s biggest stage after receiving an invitation from the Dallas Mavericks to take part in a two-day minicamp next month.
The 28-year-old Tabuse received word from his agent on Thursday while attending a camp for the national team that he has been invited to the Mavericks’ minicamp on June 11-12.
Tabuse was a candidate for Japan to play in the FIBA East Asia Basketball Championship getting under way on June 10 in Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, but he said the opportunity to have a chance to play again in the NBA was too good to ignore.
“I got the news all of a sudden but I am happy that I was able to get an opportunity in this way. I will be put to the test again,” Tabuse said. “I will make this challenge with confidence. I have nothing to lose. My speed translates in the NBA, but I need to work on one-on-one matchups and my shooting ability,” he said.
Tabuse, who will miss the East Asia Basketball Championship, is scheduled to depart for the United States on Tuesday.
Details such as how many players will take part in the minicamp are sketchy but Tabuse is planning to participate in the NBA Summer League in July in a bid to make an NBA roster in time for the start of the season this autumn.
The 173-cm Tabuse became the first Japanese NBA player when he debuted with the Phoenix Suns in their season opener on Nov. 3, 2004. But he was released by the Suns on Dec. 18 the same year after averaging 1.8 points, 1.0 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 4.3 minutes in just four games.
After failing to land a deal with another NBA team, Tabuse played for his former team, the ABA’s Long Beach Jam, a minor league squad.
Last season, he joined the Link Tochigi Brex in the Japan Basketball League on a two-year contract, which had a clause that allowed for a move abroad if he received an offer from the NBA or the world’s other top leagues.
Tabuse’s Brex teammate Takuya Kawamura, who led the JBL in scoring (20.4 points per game) in the 2008-09 season, was named to the provisional national team roster this spring. The small forward decided to skip the team’s training camp and workouts after revealing his plans to pursue an NBA career.
According to published reports, Kawamura is currently training in Los Angeles.