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The Japan Times features periodic interviews with personalities in the bj- league. Coach Tomoya Higashino of the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix is the subject of this week’s profile.

Coaching background: Higashino completed his second full season on the Hamamatsu bench in April. He took over for Ryuji Kawai in March 2013. The Phoenix were 23-15 at the time of the coaching move, and went 5-9 to close out the regular season. … Higashino has previously been a head coach in the JBL2 (Tokorozawa Broncos, 1999-2001) and JBL (Rera Kamuy Hokkaido, 2007-10). He served as a Japan national team assistant coach under Zeljko Pavlicevic (2004-06) and Tom Wisman (2010-12), and also worked as an assistant at NCAA Division III Lewis & Clark College (1996-98). Noteworthy: Higashino, known in Japan basketball circles as “Coach Crusher,” is the third bench boss to guide the Phoenix to a bj-league Final Four appearance, following in the footsteps of Kazuo Nakamura (2009, 2010, 2011) and Kawai (2012). … The Phoenix went 41-11 and finished third in the Western Conference this season. They made a 14-win improvement from last season’s squad. … Higashino participated as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2012 NBA Summer League team. … His Crusher Basketball Camp, held annually in the summer, was established in 1996. … For a master’s degree assignment at Waseda University, he wrote his thesis on Argentine basketball.

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