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Rebounding skills a vital part of Joji Takeuchi’s game

by

Staff Writer

Joji Takeuchi consistently provides solid numbers for the Alvark Tokyo.

The veteran forward brings a blue-collar work ethic to the court. He hustles. He makes the fundamental plays — sets screens, boxes out, hits top-of-the-key jumpers.

Takeuchi, 32, also remains one of the premier rebounders in Japan pro basketball.

Takeuchi is first overall among Japanese players in rebounding in the B. League, averaging 9.3 in 41 games. The Osaka native is a 10.0-point-per-game scorer, supplying his club with near double-double production on a regular basis.

When the 207-cm Takeuchi’s rebounding numbers are put next to the rest of the league’s players, only five men have higher averages, placing him in elite company. Tochigi Brex star Ryan Rossiter leads the circuit (13.4), followed by Kawasaki Brave Thunders MVP candidate Nick Fazekas (12.2), Osaka Evessa big man Josh Harrellson (12.0), SeaHorses Mikawa inside standout Isaac Butts (11.5) and Toyama Grouses post player Sam Willard (9.8).

Along with his twin brother, Kosuke, who stars for the Tochigi Brex, the family name has been synonymous with men’s hoops in Japan for most of this century, including their storied college rivalry, when Joji starred for Tokai University and Kosuke played for Keio University. They also competed for Japan during the 2006 FIBA World Championship in their home nation.

The Takeuchi brothers remain key contributors on their respective teams after years of competing in the JBL and its successor, the NBL, before the formation of the B. League for the 2016-17 campaign.

While dunks and 3-point shots are regular staples of the game, the hallmark of a team’s success usually includes steady rebounding, which the longtime Hitachi Sunrockers standout (during the team’s JBL/NBL era) supplies in his first season in an Alvark uniform.

In short, Joji Takeuchi stands tall for the Alvark in a season of transition for Japan basketball, doing what he’s always done throughout his career.

Lofty numbers: Perhaps the most impressive individual statistic in Japan men’s pro basketball this season is this: Fazekas’ league-best scoring total (27.9) greatly exceeds everyone else’s. Niigata Albirex BB’s Davante Gardner is No. 2 (at 21.6).

Kawasaki uses the ex-NBA big man as its go-to scoring option. Smart decision. The Brave Thunders (35-6) have the best record in the 18-team top division.

Highlight footage: The league’s latest “Best of TOUGH SHOT Weekly Top 5,” features a heavy dose of Alvark highlights from the latest round of games.

In a 68-second segment, which can be viewed on the league website and on YouTube, a Joji Takeuchi jumper, which included nifty footwork and a spin move before the shot against the Brex, began the highlight package at No. 5.

No. 4 features Tokyo newcomer Trent Plaisted delivering a baseline dunk. Alvark teammates Daiki Tanaka and Jeff Ayres team up for a crowd-pleasing play that made No. 3 on the list, with Ayres the recipient of an on-target pass. Ayres slices through traffic in the lane, drives to the hoop and unleashes a forceful slam.

Sendai 89ers forward Wendell White is seen banking in a 3-pointer off the backboard for the week’s No. 2 play.

Brex floor leader Yuta Tabuse’s steal and almost end-to-end layup around the midway point of the fourth quarter to put his team ahead 66-64 against the Alvark on Sunday tops the chart. Nice close-up camera footage of excited fans and a fired-up Tabuse after the play cap the action-packed segment. (Tochigi won 74-66.)

Miscellany: Ten of 18 teams have losing records through Monday. . .. Four clubs have 30 or more wins: Kawasaki, Tochigi (32-9), Mikawa and Tokyo (both 31-10).

Upcoming games: The weekend actions tips off on Friday with a pair of series openers: Kawasaki vs. Kyoto and Tokyo vs. Osaka. On Saturday, the following series get under way: Tochigi vs. Niigata, Mikawa vs. Sendai, Chiba vs. Shiga, Akita vs. Shibuya, Yokohama vs. Ryukyu, Toyama vs. Nagoya and San-en vs. Hokkaido.