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Struggling Sendai fires Pierce

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

After getting swept by the visiting Saitama Broncos on Friday, the Sendai 89ers on Saturday announced head coach Bob Pierce has been relieved of his duties.

The 89ers are 13-21, including 5-11 at home. They are in eighth place in the 11-team Eastern Conference. (The Akita Northern Happinets, who were 17-15 entering the weekend, occupy the sixth and final playoff spot.)

General manager Takeo Mabashi will serve as the acting head coach for the remainder of the season, according to a news release issued by the team.

In a statement released by the team, 89ers president Teruhisa Nakamura said the decision to dismiss Pierce was based “on the poor performance of the team this season.”

The 89ers have lost five of their past seven games. They were 1-4 to open the season and 3-7 after 10 games.

Sendai hired Pierce, a former JBL head coach and Japan national team assistant coach, before the 2011-12 season, when the team was rebuilding from scratch after being forced to suspend operations following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.

The 89ers went 28-24 last season and advanced to the playoffs.

The nucleus of the team changed considerably this season, with key players Kenichi Takahashi (Iwate), Johnny Dukes, Rashaad Singleton, Filip Toncinic and Dan Fitzgerald not brought back.

Pierce previously coached the Akita Northern Happinets (2010-11) and Shiga Lakestars (2008-10). He’s also worked as an Asia-based scout for the Cleveland Cavaliers.