Quietly and without much fanfare, the Kyoto Hannaryz have rattled off five straight victories.
Rookie forward Josh Bostic has played a pivotal role in the team’s recent success, averaging 25.2 points per game in January, when the team posted a 5-1 record.
He is The Japan Times’ Offensive Player of the Month for January.
Bostic scored 19 points or more points in each game, had a pair of 27-point outings and a 36-point outburst against the Saitama Broncos on Jan. 10, which helped the team begin its current win streak.
On Jan. 14, Bostic went 15-for-18 from the free-throw line during a 27-point effort against the Tokyo Apache. It’s rare for a rookie in any pro league to attempt 18 foul shots, but it’s a strong reminder that Bostic is a physical presence on the court and a player who’s not afraid to be aggressive at any stage of a game.
In addition, Bostic is the league’s fifth-leading scorer (22.7 ppg) and is also No. 5 in steals (2.1 per game).
Bostic, who doesn’t turn 23 until May 12, has made an impact as a passer, too, including three or more assists in each January game.
Bostic attended the University of Findlay (Ohio), where he led the school to a 36-0 record last season and the NCAA Division II title. He was named the D-II Player of the Year.
Defensive accolades: The Sendai 89ers held their opponents to less than 80 points in each of their six January games. Call it a blueprint for success.
Sendai leads the Eastern Conference in fewest points allowed per game (73.3). And the 89ers went 4-2 in the month, solidifying their grip on second place in the East.
The defensive backbone — the last line of defense — of coach Honoo Hamaguchi’s club consists of frontcourt mainstays Gyno Pomare and Chris Holm. They are among the league’s most accomplished rebounders; Holm is No. 1 (13.5 per game) and Pomare is fifth (12.3).
Holm, the starting center, and Pomare, a power forward, are The Japan Times’ Defensive Players of the Month for January.
Coaches around the league have spoken at length this season about the sheer physical presence of Sendai’s top two inside players and difficulties they create in terms of matchups and trying to fend off their brute strength.
Strong consideration also went to Takamatsu Five Arrows guard Yu Okada, who is third in the league in steals (2.2 per game).