• The Japan Times


Former Japan national team center Takatoshi Ishibashi has been named the new head coach of the Toyama Grouses, the bj-league team announced on Tuesday.

Ishibashi, 40, last played for the Grouses in 2006-07, and after his retirement as a player has worked as a TV analyst and at basketball clinics.

After a 3-7 start, Toyama fired Masato Fukushima on Nov. 28 and Hirokazu Nema became the interim head coach. Ishibashi, who played in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, will now work to turn around the struggling franchise. He said he wants Toyama to become an up-tempo, high-scoring club.

“I’d like to chance the unhealthy air that is surrounding us now in order to go to the playoffs,” Ishibashi said. “From my past experiences, once your team’s air changes its winning percentage will go up. I’m inexperienced, but I’d like our boosters to support us more than in the past.”

In other league news, Niigata Albirex BB point guard Akitomo Takeno, who made the game-winning basket in a 74-73 triumph over the Ryukyu Golden Kings on Sunday, is the Circle K Sunkus Player of the Week. Takeno had 14 points and four assists in the series finale and 16 points and six assists on Saturday.

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