Kashiwagi changes teams but not style in bid to be better


KAWASAKI — Here’s a youngster who has a huge desire to become a better basketball player.

News photo Shinsuke Kashiwagi

Guard Shinsuke Kashiwagi moved from the Hitachi Sunrockers to the Aisin Sea Horses during the offseason. But he hasn’t changed a bit in terms of his highly energetic style of play.

On Opening Day of the 2006-07 JBL Super League season, Kashiwagi played full-throttle from the beginning.

Coming off the bench, he fired up his Aisin teammates and helped them overcome a 16-point deficit to win the game, 86-75, at Todoroki Arena.

Kashiwagi had six points, four rebounds and six steals in just 20 minutes, 23 seconds of play.

“I was only thinking of chipping in for my team, as usual,” the 24-year-old Kashiwagi said of his Aisin debut.

The 183-cm Kashiwagi is a so-called combo guard, who can play both the point and shooting guard positions. He was selected for the FIBA World Championship Japan squad, despite the fact that he was playing a backup role behind ace point guard Kei Igarashi at Hitachi

His game caught the eyes of foreign scouts during the World Championship. A Miami Heat scout said that Kashiwagi may be one of the fastest players in the world.

Kashiwagi is an uncompromising player and has unlimited desire to thrive as a hoopster.

His current goal is to become a better point guard and that is why he has moved to Aisin, where he thought he could get more playing time.

“I want to grow up as a point guard in the JBL, and in the national team,” said Kashiwagi, a Hokkaido native. “I don’t have any problem playing at the shooting guard position if coach wants to use me at it, though.”

There is anther reason for Kashiwagi to have made the move possible — it was because arguably Japan’s best point guard, Kenichi Sako, plays for the Sea Horses.

“(Sako) means so much to me, so I’m so glad to have joined this team,” Kashiwagi said. “He makes shots when needed and is good at using other players. So I have so much to learn from him.”

Last month, both Sako and Kashiwagi were chosen for the national team, which is led by Aisin coach Kimikazu Suzuki, the new national coach, for December’s Asian Games in Doha.

But Kashiwagi is truly a daredevil and it makes him a unique player in this league. He called the 36-year-old Sako a “rival,” and aims to become a starter although he understands coming off the bench is an important role.

The experience at the World Championship was huge for Kashiwagi, although Japan was eliminated in the Group B stage.

After all, playing on the world stage was an excellent learning experience for him.