The Japan Times will be featuring periodic interviews with players in the bj-league — Japan’s first professional basketball circuit — which wrapped up its third season in May.
Basketball reporter Tatsuya Aoshima of Fuji Television is the subject of this week’s profile. He provides commentary for the bj-league’s biweekly TV show. Name: Tatsuya Aoshima Hometown: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture Age: 42 College: Waseda University Major: Japanese literature and linguistics
Midway through the NBA Finals, Aoshima sat down inside the Fuji TV Building to discuss his career as a broadcaster and his passion for basketball.
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On the TV program what are you trying to point out to the viewers? Are you trying to point out certain things in your analyses?Aoshima: Every game has the point, the turning point, or the decisive point, so we concentrate on how to emphasize these turning points to the viewers. So I am trying to follow almost every week of games live if possible to analyze these decisive points and to emphasize these points. Sometimes, I use very funny words, “Oh!” or “Wow!” . . . or a funny tone of voices.”
Give us some general background on the bj-league TV show.
The show is shown on BS Fuji, but the show itself is produced by the Fuji Television Network, so it is aired by BS Fuji. The bj-league TV biweekly program has aired since the start of the 2006-07 season. We also aired the playoff games at Ariake (Colosseum) near here.
Since 1988, when you began your career in broadcasting, have you always been employed as a sports reporter?
Basically, yes. I am working for football (soccer) programs, and at the same time horse racing coverage and the Tour de France. And also, Japanese announcers do not only do these specialty programs but also news coverage and reporting tasks, such as general news (crime, politics) and at the same time narration.
Did you play basketball as a child?
I started at around 9 or 10, playing mini-basketball at the time. I played basketball for around five years in my childhood in elementary school until junior high school, but I got injured so I quit playing basketball.
Did you always follow basketball as a fan, watching Japanese basketball and overseas basketball like the NBA?
I was not so interested in foreign basketball in my childhood but my great memory was when I went to Aichi Prefecture Gymnasium in Nagoya to see the Eastern Asian Three Countries Basketball Tournament held around 35 years ago. (He laughs.) It was between the Japanese team and the South Korean team and the Chinese team.
That was one of my great memories about basketball. (He then starts rattling off a few names of players that have become obscure nearly four decades later.)
Going back to your job, what do you enjoy most about the show? And what was your favorite part about the show this past season?
Following the regular-season matches, I went to various towns to cover the matches and then I met so many boosters, and almost all the boosters told me, “itsumo mitemasu,” I am following you on TV. Almost all the boosters tell me their requests and what they want to watch more. They always say to please do more comments on our team.
I felt it was a great situation and it goes to our power, energy, to produce a better program.
What are some general impressions you have of Osaka Evessa coach Kensaku Tennichi, who has guided the team to three straight titles? Why do you think he has succeeded?
He chooses to use a small rotation, sometimes putting for four foreign men on the court and one Japanese guy like (Kazuya) Hatano or (Naoto) Nakamura. That’s what Tennichi-san chooses from the various options, and Tennichi-san thought that was the surest way to get a three-peat.
But it was a very difficult season for him I think because, as you mentioned, (power forward) Lynn Washington’s early time injury and (swingman) David Palmer left and the other teams are getting better, closer to the Evessa, especially the Takamatsu Five Arrows.
What’d you think of the Fukuoka-Five Arrows wild-card game on April 20 in Shikoku, where the Rizing thrashed Takamatsu on its home court in the second half?
Of course, almost all basketball fans got surprised by that.
As you look back at the season, what impressions did you develop about Rizing coach John Neumann, who was named the bj-league’s Coach of the Year?
He gathers every player’s good thing (skill) together and turns it into great power to conquer their opponent. Coach Neumann concentrates on that by using (point guard Kazuyuki) Nakagawa’s force and (point guard Tsuyoshi) Kawazura’s spirit and the American guys’ potential, like (forward Michael) Parker, who is full of agility and ability.
When you followed point guard Cohey Aoki of the Tokyo Apache last season, what do you feel made him such a sensational sparkplug for the championship runnerup?
At the beginning of last season, Aoki played as a starter, but after the first quarter of the season, Aoki turned into a great sixth man by the decision made not only of the head coach Joe Bryant. He spent a very difficult season last season because he had to change his style from starter into a great sixth man.
I thought Aoki had a period of a slump, but he regained his power and his brightness as one of the greatest Japanese basketball players. . .
In your view, how is the bj-league TV show helping the league gain new fans?
Basically here in Japan there are so many basketball lovers but there weren’t so many ways to (follow) Japanese basketball. But (still) the chance is very limited, so our program, bj-league TV, will help to make the fans get in touch with the greater moments of bj-league players and plays . . . and be one of the gateways to regularly get in touch with these moments.