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The Oita HeatDevils missed the playoffs in 2011-12, finishing 23-29 in the bj-league, or five less wins than the sixth-place Shimane Susanoo Magic in the Western Conference. So it was back to the drawing board for one of the bj-league’s original franchises.

Earlier this week, Oita added a pair of veteran standouts: forward Kazuya “J.” Hatano and guard Taishiro Shimizu, the latter served as the Miyazaki Shining Suns captain the past two seasons and averaged 11.0 points per game last season. Hatano won three championships as a key role player for the Osaka Evessa and has been a rugged defender and solid rebounder since the league was established while suiting up for the Evessa, Saitama Broncos and, most recently, Shiga Lakestars.

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