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Defending champ Hamamatsu signs Warren

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Reggie Warren, one of the premier players in bj-league history, will suit up for the defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix in the circuit’s final campaign.

The Phoenix, who entered last season’s playoffs as the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed, made the announcement over the weekend.

Warren played for the Kyoto Hannaryz, one of Hamamatsu’s top conference rivals, during the 2014-15 campaign, when the Kansai club won a league-record 44 games. It was his second one-year stint with the team. The University of West Florida alum was also named to the league’s Best Five team for the third time.

The 34-year-old power forward is chasing his first title in Japan. He was a key performer on a pair of championship runnerup teams: Takamatsu Five Arrows (2006-07) and Rizing Fukuoka (2012-13). He’s also played for the Saitama Broncos.

Now, before the launch of the Japan Professional Basketball League in the fall of 2016, a three-tier circuit combining the NBL, bj-league and NBDL, Warren shifts his focus to making an impact for the Phoenix.

“I am really thankful to be joining the reigning champions of the bj-league,” the star forward said in a statement issued by his new team. “I look forward to another successful season and I’m excited about bringing another championship to the Phoenix organization.”

Staying put: Veteran post player Wendell White, a former league MVP, is returning to the Sendai 89ers for a third season.

White, a UNLV product, is a stabilizing force in the frontcourt for coach Shuto Kawachi’s team.

Pieces to the puzzle: The expansion Hiroshima Lightning have signed a trio of import players for their inaugural season.

Guard Andre Murray, who attended Portland State, brings bj-league experience to the Lightning after splitting last season between Nara and Gunma.

The team also added 200-cm forward Adam Herman, who scored 22.4 points per game during the 2012-13 season (No. 4 overall in the NAIA Division II ranks), when he was a junior at Concordia University, a Cascade Collegiate Conference school.

Herman played under current Lightning bench boss Joe Navarro while with the IBL’s Vancouver Volcanoes in 2014. Navarro also served as a Concordia assistant during Herman’s time there.

Also, Hiroshima acquired the services of 214-cm center Gijo Bain, whose pro career has included stops in Iran, Spain, Mexico and the IBL.

Bain, a 30-year-old native of the Bahamas, led the University of Southern Mississippi in blocked shots (1.7 per game) during both his junior and senior seasons, 2006-07 and 2007-08.