Basketball / BJ-League | BJ-LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Rosters finalized for bj-league All-Star Game

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Team rosters for the 2014-15 bj-league All-Star Game were announced on Friday, and veteran guard Kenya Tomori is the lone representative of the Gunma Crane Thunders, the host squad, who’s been selected to play.

Tomori is one of seven Eastern Conference reserves chosen by the league.

Meanwhile, fan favorites Cohey Aoki of the Rizing Fukuoka and Masashi Joho of the Toyama Grouses, former Tokyo Apache teammates, were named All-Star starters for the ninth and seventh time, respectively.

Aoki, who’s averaging 9.5 points per game, extended his own record, which started in January 2007 in Okinawa. Among West guards, he was No. 2 with 21,253 fan votes, trailing only Ryukyu Golden Kings guard Ryuichi Kishimoto, an 11.5 ppg scorer.

Both guards will represent their teams in the starting lineup for the Feb. 1 showcase game in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture.

Joho, who leads Toyama in scoring (17.7 ppg), is the most decorated All-Star on the East. He’s joined in the backcourt by fellow starter Shigehiro Taguchi of the Akita Northern Happinets, a three-time selection contributing 15.2 ppg for the Tohoku powerhouse club.

The West’s frontcourt starters: big man Atsuya Ota of Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, a four-time pick; Kyoto Hannaryz macho forward Reggie Warren, a three-time choice and fiery presence at both ends of the court contributing 12.6 ppg and 8.4 rpg; and Ryukyu star Draelon Burns, a two-time selection with a knack for making clutch shots and a 15.7 ppg average.

Burns was the top vote-getter (30,115) among all players in the 22-team circuit.

For the East, Akita’s Richard Roby, who checks in at 19.6 ppg, is penciled in the starting lineup alongside forwards Scootie Randall of the Iwate Big Bulls, who led the league in scoring for most of the season’s first half (he’s currently No.2 at 21.8 ppg), and mainstay Yuichi Ikeda of the Niigata Albirex BB, a 10.0 ppg scorer and four-time selection.

Former NBA assistant coach Charlie Parker, Gunma’s bench boss, will lead the East squad, with Aomori Wat’s sideline supervisor Koju Munakata as his assistant.

The East’s other backcourt reserves are Masaya Karimata (Fukushima Firebonds), Takato Saito (Shinshu Brave Warriors) and Koji Nagata (Saitama Broncos). The frontcourt backups are Sendai 89ers star Kejuan Johnson, the league’s leading scorer (22.9 ppg), Aomori’s Gyno Pomare and Tokyo Cinq Reves big man Will Foster.

For the West, the reserve guards are Shunki Hatakeyama (Osaka Evessa), Tatsuya Suzuki (Bambitious Nara), Edward Yamamoto (Shimane Susanoo Magic) and seven-time All-Star Taishiro Shimizu (Oita HeatDevils), with Justin Watts (Takamatsu Five Arrows), Terrance Woodbury (Shiga Lakestars) and Olu Ashaolu (Hamamatsu) getting the nod among forwards and centers.

Phoenix bench boss Tomoya “Coach Crusher” Higashino, whose team has a West-leading 23-3 record and 14 consecutive victories, was named the West’s head coach and Osaka’s Shunsuke Todo the assistant.

Among the curious omissions: League legend Anthony McHenry, who has helped the Golden Kings capture three titles, was left off the West squad, and Gunma center Melvin Ely, the lone current player in the league with NBA regular-season game experience on his resume.

Prior to the All-Star Game, the league will stage the 3-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest.

For the 3-Point Shootout, there are six contestants: Taguchi, Johnson, defending champion Patrick Sanders of Shinshu, Gunma’s Yosuke Kodera, Masayuki Kabaya of the Yokohama B-Corsairs and Kishimoto. (Of the six, Johnson has nailed the most 3s — 67 — this season.)

In the Slam Dunk Contest, the Japanese contestant is forward Hiromasa Omiya of reigning champion Ryukyu. He has four dunks this season. The others selected players: Iwate’s Lawrence Blackledge (28 dunks), Akita’s Deshawn Stephens (36), Fukushima’s Terrance Shannon (31), Tokyo’s Foster (53) and Ashaolu (41).

On the move: Shinshu has released forward/center Carl Hall and replaced him on the roster with former University of Louisville post player Terrance Jennings. The moves were announced on Friday.

Hall led the Brave Warriors in total rebounds (223) in his 24 games in a Shinshu uniform. The Wichita State alum scored 13.5 ppg.

By acquiring the 208-cm Jennings, the Nagano-based club, which is 9-15 and riding a five-game losing streak, becomes significantly bigger in the frontcourt, adding a pivotman 7 cm taller than Hall.

As a college junior, Jennings appeared in 24 games for the Cardinals. He contributed 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds with a team-best 65 blocks before declaring for the 2011 NBA Draft.

He has played in Belgium and the NBA Development League for the Iowa Energy in 2012-13 (33 games, 4.7 ppg and 3.0 rpg averages) and Erie BayHawks in 2013-14 (9.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg in 45 contests).

Jennings moved on to Jiang Xi of China’s NBL in 2014. In five games, he supplied 23.2 ppg and 13.6 rpg.

New project: Former Japan national team head coach Zeljko Pavlicevic, who has also guided Shimane and the NBL’s Wakayama Trians, has launched a website to publicize basketball coaching clinics he plans to hold in Japan.

A Japanese-language website (zbeca.jp/ZBCA/Welcome.html) provides the first batch of details on the the Zeljko Elite Basketball Coaching Academy.

Broncos talk: Saitama coach Kazuaki Shimoji remains away from the day-to-day management of the team as he continues to recuperate from bacterial endocarditis, a heart illness.

Takahisa Yamaguchi, the team’s trainer/strength and conditioning coach, will fill in for Shimoji again this weekend in a series against visiting Akita, according to a team-issued news release on Friday.

Shimoji hasn’t coached a game since Dec. 7.

Feedback: Got a story idea about the bj-league? Send an email to: edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp