It’s the time of the season for teams to add reinforcements as they begin jockeying for playoff positions.
Exhibit A: The Miyazaki Shining Suns signed high-scoring forward O’Neal “Trey” Mims earlier this week. The 208-cm veteran averaged a team-high 19.3 points in 20 games for the Sendai 89ers before he was released last week due to undisclosed reasons.
Mims gives Miyazaki (10-12) a potent scoring weapon as the club fights to stay in the thick of things in the playoff race. He’s a capable defender and a solid all-around player.
Look for other teams to make similar moves in the coming weeks.
Former Oita and Sendai forward Mike Bell is reportedly looking to join a bj-league club, probably Osaka, in the coming days, a source told The Japan Times.
Mims, meanwhile, welcomes the change of scenery.
“I feel blessed to be part of the team,” the Angelo State product said in a statement posted on Miyazaki’s website, “and I’m very excited to contribute to the team in any way I can. Please continue to support us and I will do anything necessary to take this team to the playoffs.”
After leading scorer Reggie Okosa’s departure from the team last week, the Ryukyu Golden Kings are expected to add another player to fill his roster spot.
“Okosa’s replacement? He is a returnee,” a source said, fueling speculation about several talented imports who’ve suited up for bj-league teams in recent years.
“You know I am a little bitter. (Center) Chris Ayer is the perfect role player for the Kings. Besides Jeff’s performance in the Western finals (in 2009, a 50-point game against Osaka), Chris was the X-factor in winning the championship and they didn’t bring him back,” he added, referring to Jeff Newton’s iconic game, the single greatest individual accomplishment in league history.
“Obviously, coach Dai (Oketani) liked him or he wouldn’t have brought him from Oita,” he continued, citing that Oketani, the former Oita bench boss, and Ayer worked together for the HeatDevils.
“(Ryukyu president/general manager Tatsuro) Kimura didn’t like him and that’s why they didn’t resign him. Not only did they not sign him, Kimura put bad info about him through the league so nobody else would sign him. The guy is working his ass off in the D-League (NBA Development League) and he reminds me of the Kyoto players, quiet and blue collar.”
Ayer has played 11 games for the D-League’s Reno Bighorns this season. He’s averaging 8.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks through Wednesday.
Tyler update: NBA rookie forward/center Jeremy Tyler is driving a Ferrari, the San Francisco Chronicle has reported. And photos of Tyler’s new luxurious ride are circulating on the Internet.
The former Tokyo Apache player made history on Christmas Day by stepping on the floor against the Los Angeles Clippers. He is the first former bj-league player to be drafted by an NBA club. The Charlotte Bobcats made him the 39th overall selection and traded him to the Golden State Warriors for $2 million on draft day in June.
Through three games, Tyler has seen limited playing time logging a minute per game in two games (he didn’t play in the other contest), but he’s in the world’s best league and this is where he’s always dreams of playing, he’s said on numerous occasions.
Quotable: “We knew it was going to be a dogfight, and unfortunately we won in the first half and lost in the second.” — Yokohama coach Reggie Geary, reflecting on his team’s performance on Wednesday after an 80-79 defeat to Toyama.
Upcoming schedule: In an abbreviated slate during the New Year’s holidays, Miyazaki plays host to Oita on Monday and Tuesday, while Ryukyu takes on visiting Fukuoka. Niigata renews its rivalry with Hamamatsu on Tuesday and Wednesday. There’s a full slate of games on tap next weekend.
Closing commentary: The Saitama Broncos have never been talked about as one of the league’s up-and-coming teams, as a championship contender or as a well-run organization. Entering the 2012 portion of their schedule, the Broncos will have this distinction: the worst record among this season’s non-expansion Eastern Conference teams.
The first-season Chiba Jets are 10-12, followed by a pair of expansion teams, Yokohama B-Corsairs and Shinshu Brave Warriors (both at 9-13). The Broncos are 7-15, and the Iwate Big Bulls, who also entered the circuit this fall, are 7-17.
“What does it mean when the bottom five teams in the East are the four expansion teams plus Saitama?” one hoop observer wondered.
It points to a shaky foundation in the Saitama front office, it says here, and lousy leadership. And it’s a reminder that teams with a knack for winning get the proper support from the front office, investing in stability and making roster upgrades year after year.
The Broncos, now 100-188 since the bj-league began in 2005, do not have those chief traits.
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