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89ers-Albirex rematch called off

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Sendai 89ers-Niigata Albirex BB game on Friday was canceled due to the 7.3 magnitude earthquake (at 5:18 p.m.) and, the tsunami that followed in Tohoku.

Sendai issued an announcement around 6:30 p.m., about 40 minutes before the scheduled tipoff of its bj-league series rematch against the visiting Albirex.

Niigata won the series opener, topping Sendai 100-82 on Thursday.

The Albirex are 11-6. The 89ers are 5-10.

Sendai is scheduled to face the host Yokohama B-Corsairs on Dec. 14 and 15. Niigata is set to play host to the Chiba Jets on Dec. 15 and 16.

On the move: The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix have signed forward Wendell White, who was released by the cash-strapped Oita HeatDevils last week, the team announced on Friday.

White, a UNLV product, was the league’s 2009-10 regular-season MVP while playing for the Phoenix and helped the club win its first of back-to-back championships under ex-coach Kazuo Nakamura. White played for the Kyoto Hannaryz in 2010-11 before joining Oita last season.

White is one of the top all-around players in league history. He fills a roster spot vacated by forward Adrian Thomas, a University of Miami (Florida) alum, who played 10 games in a Phoenix uniform and averaged 16.7 points.

Thomas had three big games for Hamamatsu: a 41-point outburst (13-for-25 on 3-pointers on Nov. 4, his second game for the team), a 25-point game on Nov. 3 (7-for-14 on 3s) and 23 points on Nov. 25. In those three games, he was 27-for-49 from beyond the arc, but struggled to remain consistent as a key scorer. Thomas was released earlier this week.

The Phoenix (11-7) are in their first season in the Western Conference after dominating the Eastern Conference during the past four seasons, going 154-48 in the regular season, advancing to the Final Four four times, winning a pair of titles and finishing runnerup in the 2011-12 title game to the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

“I’m extremely excited about coming back to the Phoenix,” White said in a statement issued by the team. “This is where I started my bj-league career. I’m happy to say that (this) is my home away from home and to the boosters thank you for your support. I want to help bring another championship to the Phoenix. Thank you and God bless.”

HeatDevils update: Forward Kazuya “J.” Hatano will play for Oita this weekend against the host Takamatsu Five Arrows, and then the league’s other 20 teams will be able to bid for his services. The HeatDevils have reportedly slashed players’ salaries by 70 percent and Hatano, a three-time champion while playing for the Evessa, is no longer part of Oita’s plans.

On Friday, Oita signed forward Andre Coimbra, who was released by Osaka a day earlier.