• Kyodo, Staff Report


Former Aoyama Gakuin University coach Kenji Hasegawa is likely to take over as the men’s national basketball team coach as Japan bids to gain entrance in the competition on home soil for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, sources said Monday.

The Japan Basketball Association is close to hiring the 54-year-old Hasegawa, who although he has no coaching experience in the National Basketball League (the revamped JBL) or in the 21-team bj-league, has received high marks for his ability to lead young players.

If he’s hired by the JBA, Hasegawa would replace Kimikazu Suzuki, the Aisin SeaHorses coach, who was appointed as Japan’s bench boss in May 2012, his second stint as the national team mentor. He was relieved of his national team duties after Japan’s poor showing at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. The 54-year-old Suzuki’s first stint lasted from 2006 to 2007.

Hasegawa guided Japan, featuring brothers Kosuke and Joji Takeuchi, to the semifinals at the World University Games in Bangkok in 2007. Under his leadership, Aoyama beat Levanga Hokkaido to reach the quarterfinals of the 2013 Emperor’s Cup.

Japan has not qualified for the Olympic men’s basketball tournament since the 1976 Montreal Games.

FIBA has not guaranteed berths to the Japan national teams for the 2020 Tokyo Games due to ongoing problems that exist between the nation’s men’s basketball leagues and the JBA.

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