The Tokyo Excellence, who are in their first season in the National Basketball Development League (formerly the JBL2), have posted a splendid 29-3 record to date. The club is aiming to win the championship in the four-team playoffs this weekend.

"It's unbelievable, because we are a first-year (NBDL) organization," said Olson, whose Excellence finished second in the regular season behind the Toyota Tsusho Fighting Eagles (30-2). "And in Tokyo, it's hard to have a professional team and be successful because of fans, money, sponsors. So we did a great job, putting them together quickly."

The Excellence are not a completely unknown club in Japan basketball circles. The club first competed in the All-Japan Championships, also known as the Emperor's Cup, in 2002. (In addition, Bob Pierce, who has coached in both the JBL and bj-league, was the team's first bench boss from 2002-05.)