• The Japan Times

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The Toyama Grouses, who never made the playoffs in their previous four seasons of existence, and the expansion Akita Northern Happinets will participate in the 2010-11 bj-league playoffs, it was announced on Thursday.

The bj-league’s Eastern Conference playoff format will still consist of four teams: first-place Hamamatsu Higashimikawa (35-5), Niigata (19-17), Toyama (12-26) and Akita (13-29). The Phoenix, the reigning champions, and the Albirex will be the first-round hosts on May 7-8. The winners will advance to the Final Four on a to-be-announced date. (The Final Four was originally slated to be held May 21-22 at Ariake Colosseum.)

In the East, the Sendai 89ers (24-12), Tokyo Apache (20-14) and Saitama Broncos (14-24) canceled their seasons in the aftermath of the March 11 natural disasters.

In the Western Conference, six teams will advance to the postseason.

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