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All-Star Aoki to play for Evessa

Staff Report

Longtime Tokyo Apache point guard Cohey Aoki will suit up for the Osaka Evessa this season, a league insider told The Japan Times on Friday.

Aoki spent the past six seasons with the Tokyo Apache, who’ll skip the 2011-12 season, helping the team finish runnerup to the league champion Evessa and Ryukyu Golden Kings in 2007-08 and 2008-09, respectively.

A gifted, clutch scorer, the 167-cm Aoki has earned admiration from his peers and coaches around the bj-league since its inception in 2005. Aoki has been a double-digit scorer in each of the past five seasons. Throughout his career, he’s shot nearly 90 percent from the free-throw line in almost every season.

Aoki, who turns 31 in December, will give the Evessa a veteran presence in the backcourt after the departure of Kenny Satterfield.

In related news, the source said shooting guard Masashi Joho, a free agent, will play for the Toyama Grouses in 2011-12.

Joho, a streaky shooter with an aggressive, confident style of play at both ends of the court, spent the past two seasons with the Shiga Lakestars. He began his bj-league career in 2005 and played two title-winning seasons with the Evessa before joining the Apache in 2007, and was an integral part of Tokyo’s two second-place teams before joining Shiga.

Toyama, which has only played in one postseason series in its five-year history, now adds a veteran leader with extensive playoff experience to its roster.