Ryuji Kawai will return to the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix for a second season as head coach, the bj-league team announced on Tuesday.

Kawai, who turns 37 next month, guided Hamamatsu (37-15) to its fourth consecutive Eastern Conference regular-season title and a trip to the championship game, where they were defeated by the Ryukyu Golden Kings on May 20. He had the high-pressure task of replacing the inimitable mentor Kazuo Nakamura, who led the Phoenix to back-to-back championships before stepping down after the 2010-11 season and taking over the same position with the Akita Northern Happinets.

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