Geary guides Chiba to 4-0 start in NBL

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The bj-league’s loss has become the NBL’s gain.

Chiba Jets head coach Reggie Geary has given the third-year club a strong boost to kick off the 2013-14 campaign.

The Jets are one of three NBL teams still undefeated, all at 4-0. The others: Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Dolphins and Aisin SeaHorses Mikawa. (The Jets defected from the bj-league after their second season.)

The NBL, aka National Basketball League, is the 12-team successor to the old eight-team JBL. The season got under way in late September.

Geary led the Yokohama B-Corsairs to a bj-league title in May in the team’s second season of existence. He was the 2011-12 bj-league Coach of the Year, guiding the B-Corsairs to the Final Four as an expansion team.

The 40-year-old coach, who has proven to be a keen evaluator of talent, now has a new home address in Japan — and a new challenge.

And even though four games is a small sample for a 54-game season, the Jets are currently holding opponents to a league-low 39 percent shooting from the field. They are also the stingiest defense in the rebranded circuit, allowing 69.8 points per game. (And remember this: Geary’s trademark was defense as a high-energy guard at the University of Arizona and during a pro career that included two seasons in the NBA and several more overseas.)

Among former bj-league standouts in the NBL, Wakayama Trians forward Michael Parker is currently fourth in scoring at 23.0 ppg and tied for sixth in blocked shots (1.25 per game). His teammate Rick Rickert, a former Minnesota Timberwolves draft pick who spent last season with the bj-league’s Osaka Evessa, is fifth in rebounds (10.75 per contest).

For Chiba, forward Reggie Okosa, who starred for the Iwate Big Bulls last season in the bj-league, is No. 7 in rebounds (9.5) and eighth in blocks (1.0).

Popular veteran Takuya Kawamura, a longtime member of the Japan national team is also off to a good start for the Trians. He is fifth in scoring (22.25), tied for fourth in assists (4.5) and tied for No. 4 in steals (1.75).

At the top of the scoring charts for all players is Toshiba center Nick Fazekas at 27.25 ppg. The top rebounder to date is Tsukuba Robots post player Lamar Sanders (16.0). Lamont Jones of the Kumamoto Volters has a league-high 6.5 assists per game.

The free-throw percentage leaders (still at 100 percent) include former bj-league standouts Kazuyuki Nakagawa of the Robots, who is seventh in assists (4.24), and Chiba’s Hiroki Sato, who spent six seasons with the Oita HeatDevils before joining Chiba in 2011.

Three NBL teams remain winless: Hyogo Storks, Kumamoto Volters and Link Tochigi Brex, all at 0-4.