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Akita asks fans to vote for All-Star logo

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Usually, All-Star voting is focused on selecting players.

The Akita Northern Happinets, however, are taking the unusual step of inviting fans to cast their ballot for which logo will be used for the 2013-14 All-Star Game in Akita.

Four logos are in the mix. Voting began on Friday and ends on July 12. An announcement is scheduled for July 16.

To cast a vote, visit this page on the team’s website: www.happinets.net/allstarVote/index.html

It’s official: The TGI D-Rise, an NBDL (renamed JBL2) team, announced on Friday evening that Atsushi Kanazawa is the team’s new head coach.

Kanazawa guided the Rizing Fukuoka to a championship runnerup finish in his first full season in charge.
The 35-year-old bench boss is highly regarded by a number of key figures in Japan’s basketball community.

Reacting to the news earlier this week, power forward Reggie Warren, a major contributor for the Rizing this past season, told The Japan Times, “Wow. … I thought for sure he would be back. I have a lot of respect for Coach Kanazawa and enjoyed playing for him. … I wish him nothing but the best; he is a great young coach.”

Kanazawa’s departure from Fukuoka was first reported by The Japan Times on Wednesday.

Euro challenge: Former Tokyo Apache coach Bob Hill, who also coached the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Seattle SuperSonics and San Antonio Spurs, has joined Ukraine national team coach Mike Fratello’s staff.

Fratello is currently an NBA analyst. He was famously nicknamed the “Czar of the Telestrator” by play-by-play icon Marv Albert, his former broadcast partner. Fratello has coached the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies.

Ukraine will compete in EuroBasket 2013, the continental championship, in Slovenia. The competition runs from Sept. 4 to 22.

Fratello’s squad went 6-2 in the EuroBasket qualification round.

Transactions: During a busy week of offseason activity, the Gunma Crane Thunders and veteran guard Shingo Okada have approved a deal for next season, it was formally announced on Thursday.

Okada averaged 8.1 points in 49 games in Gunma’s inaugural season. He shot 53.1 percent from inside the 3-point arc and 77.3 percent at the free-throw line.
The Crane Thunders went 14-38 in their first season. Okada was the team’s top-scoring Japanese player. He brought championship experience to the new club, having played for the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix on both of their title-winning teams (2009-10 and 2010-11). …

Guard Yuji Ide, who saw limited playing time with the Shimane Susanoo Magic in 2012-13, has finalized a deal to play for the Tokyo Cinq Reves. The offer is a standard one-year contract, the Cinq Reves stated in a news release.

The 25-year-old Ide appeared in 19 games for the Magic last season, logging 57 minutes of court time. The Cinq Reves also finalized deals with guards Yuki Sato and Yuta Kurihara and forward Yuichi Shidama.

The Ryukyu Golden Kings continue to reshape their roster for new coach Tsutomu Isa’s first season in charge. They locked up a a pair of Okinawa natives — guard Masaya Karimata and forward Shinji Arashiro — to bolster the rotation.
Karimata, 25, saw action in 32 games for the Chiba Jets last season, averaging 1.1 points.
Arashiro was a practice player for the Golden Kings before being offered a contract for a normal roster spot. …

The Shinshu Brave Warriors have appointed 22-year-old Koki Sugara, a Fukushima Prefecture native, as sideline supervisor Ryuji Kawai’s assistant coach. Also this week, the Brave Warriors picked up guard Shota Konno, who spent the past six seasons with the Osaka Evessa. He primarily served as a backup in 234 regular-season appearances for the club, which made the playoffs for seven straight seasons before stumbling to a 22-30 record in 2012-13. Konno scored 8.9 points in 50 games, including a career-best 36 on March 9 against the Rizing Fukuoka.

Coach’s report: New Saitama Broncos head coach Takatoshi “Big Bashi” Ishibashi’s blog (in Japanese) featured its first entry, which was posted online on Wednesday. The blog is aptly named Big Man’s Eye. He is 210 cm tall.

Follow Ishibashi’s blog entries via this link: broncos.sailog.jp/bigbashi210/

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Do you have a story idea about the bj-league? Send an email to edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp