Link Tochigi Brex point guard Yuta Tabuse and Rera Kamuy Hokkaido sharpshooter Takehiko Orimo headline the 22-player roster for the Japan men’s national basketball team’s training camp this week, the Japan Basketball Association announced on Tuesday.
Tabuse, the first Japanese to play in the NBA, gives the team added experience at the point. In recent years, he has been somewhat of a basketball outsider, however, while playing in the American Basketball Association, briefly in the NBA and then in the NBA Development League before joining Tochigi for the 2008-09 season.
Tabuse, 28, now has a chance to establish himself as the clear-cut leader of Team Japan.
The camp will also give new coach David Hobbs, who has previously coached in the college ranks in the United States, a firsthand look at the team’s nearly two dozen players. Clearly, he needs time to put his stamp on the national team, and this is the first big step for Hobbs.
Shunsuke Ito, a 204-cm veteran, is listed as the lone center on the team. Indeed, lack of depth at center might be a concern for Hobbs.
Twin brother Kosuke and Joji Takeuchi are arguably the most well-known forwards on the squad. Kosuke Takeuchi, who was third in the JBL in scoring in 2008-09 (17.5 points per game), helped the Aisin Sea Horses captured their second straight JBL championship last month and was named MVP of the playoffs. Joji Takeuchi, the No. 7 scorer in the league (15.8 ppg), plays for the Hitachi Sunrockers, the championship runnerup.
The training camp, which will be help from Thursday to Sunday at the National Training Center in Tokyo, features a provisional roster, and the list of Japan’s players will be finalized at a later date prior to the 25th FIBA Asia Championship for Men, which will be held Aug. 6-16 in Tianjin, China.
Tochigi’s Takuya Kawamura, the JBL’s leading scorer this season (20.4 ppg) returns to his familiar spot at shooting guard, where longtime standout and mentor Orimo, who turns 39 on May 14, has been the national team’s most prolific perimeter option for several years, including at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan. (Tabuse didn’t play in the 2006 World Championship.)
The provisional roster also includes the following players: shooting guards Yuichi Kan, Shogo Asayama, Shohei Kikuchi and Yusuke Okada; guards Kei Igarashi, Shinsuke Kashiwagi, Ryota Sakurai and Takumi Ishizaki; small forwards Tomoo Amino, Ken Takeda, Taiji Sakai and Takumi Hamada; and power forwards Yoshifumi Kuwahara, Daiji Yamada, Takuya Sato and Hiromasa Omiya.
Forward J.R. Sakuragi, formerly known as J.R. Henderson, a former UCLA Bruins standout (1995 NCAA championship team) and NBA player (Vancouver Grizzlies, 1998-99) who became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2007, was not named to the provisional national team roster. Sakuragi was the JBL’s third-leading scorer (18.2 ppg) and No. 5 rebounder (9.1 boards per game) and was a key playmaker for the Sea Horses.