Basketball / B. League

Kings, Alvark to clash in B. League opener

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The B. League revealed on Tuesday that the Alvark Tokyo and Ryukyu Golden Kings will tip off the inaugural season on Sept. 22 at Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

It is the sole game that will be played on the day, and the other matchups, which will be announced later, will be played on the weekend.

For the historical opening, the league picked two powerhouse clubs from the NBL and bj-league. The Alvark, who were known as the Toyota Alvark in the NBL, are a four-time champion in Japan’s top men’s circuit (JBL and NBL), while the Golden Kings have captured the bj-league title four times, including one they just won on May 15.

The opening game will begin following an opening ceremony, which starts at 6:30 p.m. It will be broadcast live on Fuji Television and NHK-BS while it will also be streamed on Sportsnavi Live.

The two teams will return to Yoyogi the next day to complete the final game of the two-game series.

B. League chairman Masaaki Okawa said at a Tokyo news conference that the fans will be entertained with “unprecedented stage effects” and “surprises” at the game.

On starting the inaugural season with just one game, Okawa said that the B. League borrowed the idea from the J. League, which used the same format when it kicked off on May 15, 1993.

“It left a strong impression on me that the J. League went on to have enormous popularity after the game,” said Okawa, a former J. League executive.

“We’ll have two teams that represent the NBL and bj-league and present a great show, and we’d like to drastically change the values (for basketball) with the game. It’ll be aired on prime time, so hopefully we’d like to make our league as popular as we can with this opportunity.”

The two clubs’ players will obviously be the main attraction.

Ryukyu guard Ryuichi Kishimoto said that he was “excited to be part of the commemorative game” while he felt “a sense of responsibility” to help make it an attractive game.

“We’ve played against (the Alvark) in preseason games, but we haven’t won one yet,” said Kishimoto, who earned the playoff MVP accolade in the 2013-14 season. “So hopefully, we’ll post a win this time.”

Said Alvark guard/forward Daiki Tanaka: “I expect a lot of fans will come to the game. I’d like to have a game that they can see our emotion, so they’ll return for another game.”