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Former Laker Sacre ready to begin journey in Japan

by

Staff Writer

Former Los Angeles Lakers center Robert Sacre was officially introduced by the B. League’s Sunrockers Shibuya on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference held on an upper floor of the gigantic Shibuya Hikarie shopping complex, the 27-year-old displayed his energetic character to reporters and TV crews, showing no signs of fatigue or jet lag from his trip to Japan.

“Just give me the ball,” Sacre said with a smile, when asked what he could bring to the table for his new team. “Everything else will work itself out.

“I’ll be happy to be the center. I can’t even think of the word, getting my Japanese mixed up. But I’m just excited to play, just getting up and down with these guys (my teammates). The guys work hard. So just give me the ball and let everything else work itself out.”

The team had room on its roster for Sacre after parting ways with center Chad Posthumus, whose contract expired earlier this week.

Sacre landed in Japan last Wednesday and has already been practicing with the Sunrockers. The Baton Rogue, Louisiana, native is scheduled to make his B. League debut against the Kawasaki Brave Thunders in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, next Wednesday, provided his registration procedure is done by then.

“I think we have a combination, old and young, and right now we just need to blend them together, making it work,” Sacre said of the Sunrockers, who have had a series of injuries to their core players and have a disappointing 14-13 record, putting them in third place in the league’s Central Division.

“I love the coaching style so far in practices. So the sky’s the limit for this team. I think we just need to come together, work on some things and get it together, and get all the pieces to the puzzle to make it work.”

Sacre admitted he might be a little shaky early on, due to having not played in a real game for a while, but added that he’d be fine as long as he gives it everything he has on the court.

“I’m very blessed to be able to play basketball and enjoy doing what I love,” said Sacre, who signed with the New Orleans Pelicans last fall but was waived in late October. “So if you can enjoy what you love, that’s not really called ‘work.’ That’s how I’m feeling.”

Sacre said his strength is his versatility at his position and hopes to help Shibuya with it.

“I believe my appeal is, (being) physical, being aggressive, and (that) I’m a defensive-minded player,” said the 213-cm big man, who was named the 2012 West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year in his senior season at Gonzaga University. “So I feel like I’m an all-around big man that can do pretty much everything.”

Sacre, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, is known as a great supporter from the bench with his “Sacre dance,” which he used to energize his Lakers teammates and is ready to duplicate it for the Sunrockers.

“My teammates do something spectacular, I’m getting up, I’m cheering them on, absolutely,” said Sacre, who averaged 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in four seasons with the Lakers through last year.

Having played in L.A., Sacre is used to being around a lot of people, like in Tokyo, but said he feels “blessed to be able to come to a beautiful city like Shibuya and be able to play basketball for everybody here.”

Sacre said the biggest reason he decided to come to Japan was because some of his former Gonzaga teammates, such as the Sunrockers’ Ira Brown, Brave Thunders’ Ryan Spangler (he transferred to the University of Oklahoma after his freshman year) and Gunma Crane Thunders’ Abdullahi Kuso, were playing in the country.

“Everything I’ve heard (from them) was positive,” said Sacre, whose contract with Shibuya runs through June. “I’ve not heard one negative thing about playing in Japan and it’s been so far a blast.

“And I just adore being here and the whole organization and everything.”

Sunrockers president Hiroaki Oka said he understands Sacre probably wants to eventually go back to the NBA, but that he hopes the center remains with the team beyond the contract period.

“Hopefully, our fans and children will see him play for a long time,” Oka said.