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Fukushima brings in Moriyama as new coach

by

Staff Writer

It didn’t take long for the Fukushima Firebonds to fill their coaching vacancy.

Less than a week after original bench boss Hiroki Fujita’s departure was made public on May 27, the Firebonds named his replacement. Tomohiro Moriyama was hired to guide the team for its third season, and first in the new B. League, which tips off in September, Fukushima announced last Friday. He accepted a two-year contract.

Fujita moves on to guide the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix after the Firebonds’ 30-22 campaign and second trip to the playoffs in as many seasons.

Moriyama, 32, joins his third franchise in as many years.

“We would like to create a team that challenges for victories,” Moriyama said in a statement.

He was fired as Rizing Fukuoka coach in early March, when the team had a 14-26 record. Spaniard Josep “Pep” Claros replaced him to end the season.

In the 2014-15 season, before his stint with the Rizing, Moriyama oversaw the Shimane Susanoo Magic’s remarkable turnaround. Reggie Hanson was shown the door after the team’s 1-11 start. Moriyama, Hanson’s assistant, then steered the team to a 21-19 record in the final 40 games of the season as it earned a playoff berth as the West’s No. 6 seed.

Moriyama spent the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach and manager with the Osaka Evessa.

As the league dissolves and its teams shift to the B. League’s first, second and third divisions, the rapidly changing coaching landscape continues. Already this offseason the Sendai 89ers, Hamamatsu, Niigata Albirex BB and Saitama Broncos have announced their 2015-16 coaches won’t return.

On the move: Former bj-league All-Star Michael Parker, who starred for Fukuoka and Shimane before joining the NBL’s now-defunct Wakayama Trians, followed by a stint with the Toyota Alvark, has finalized a deal to play for the Chiba Jets in the upcoming season.

Chiba made the announcement on Wednesday.

This past season, Parker averaged 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.3 assists and 1.1 blocks in 51 games, including the playoffs, for Toyota, according to asia-basket.com.

Still going strong: Tim Greene, who earned recognition as the bj-league’s 2005-06 Referee of the Year, is now in his seventh season as a WNBA official.

Greene worked the Washington-Mystics-Atlanta Dream game last Saturday.

He served 20 years in the U.S. Navy before becoming a full-time referee. He has also worked college and NBA Development League games since departing Japan.

During an NBA labor dispute in 2009, Greene was a replacement ref during the preseason.

In recent years, he’s also spent time on college officiating crews for Atlantic-10 Conference, Patriot League and Ivy League games.

Fellow American David Law, a referee for the bj-league’s 11 seasons who worked the championship game on May 15 at Ariake Colosseum, praised Greene’s officiating abilities in a 2007 interview with Stars and Stripes.

“Greene possesses an uncanny ability to place himself in the right place, at the right time,” Law told the American military newspaper.

“He sees things two or three steps ahead. It’s like he is able to anticipate the play without anticipating the call. That is a very rare talent.”

Summer project: Ryukyu star Draelon Burns, who hails from Milwaukee, will host his annual summer camp later this month in his hometown.

The DePaul product, a title winner with Yokohama (2012-13) and Ryukyu (2013-14, this past season), is set to teach hoop fundamentals at the Milwaukee Northside YMCA from June 20-24.

The summer camp, run by the Burns Basketball Academy, is geared for students ages 8 to 14, with the focus on “basic skills, agility and team ethics,” according to the camp’s website.

In the works: The Japan Times will look back on the bj-league’s 11-year history, highlighting many of its greatest moments and accomplishments as well as a long list of problems in an upcoming series of articles.

Feedback: edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp