The Bambitious Nara’s recent signing of Gary Hamilton signals the team’s serious commitment to winning.

Vying for supremacy in the B. League’s second division will be the name of the game for new bench boss Zeljko Pavlicevic’s club, with Hamilton being a key piece to the puzzle.

A consummate team-first player, the veteran power forward has been a vital contributor for five Japan pro teams, including four in the bj-league: the Shiga Lakestars (2009-11), Rizing Fukuoka (2011-12), Osaka Evessa (2014-15), Gunma Crane Thunders (2015-16) and Yamagata Wyverns (last season).

The 33-year-old Hamilton is a dominant rebounder and forceful presence in the low post with a high basketball IQ.

“I’m so excited to start my 12th professional season in Nara,” Hamilton said in a statement posted on the team website. “I look forward to help bringing excitement and great energy to a team that’s taking steps to move in the winning direction. We have a great coach (Zeljko Pavlicevic) with championship experience along with veteran leadership in various positions. (I) can’t wait to get an early start on what can be a very special year.”

For the Wyverns, Hamilton, averaged 7.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.7 blocks in 54 games (20 starts).

The University of Miami alum’s all-around versatility will be a key building block for the Bambitious.

“I think he is a great player,” Pavlicevic told The Japan Times on Wednesday night. “And I like players who know and wish to pass the ball at the right moment, and he’s a good rebounder.”

In a family of basketball players, Hamilton’s younger brothers Jordan (University of Texas), Isaac (UCLA) and Daniel (UConn) all followed in his footsteps and played NCAA Division I ball, with Jordan also making it to the NBA with the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans. Earlier this month, Daniel signed a two-way contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder after spending last season with the team’s NBA Development League (now known as the NBA G League) affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue.

Looking ahead

As the summer moves along, fans can keep their eyes on the calendar for the start of the regular season.

The top flight is set to open its second campaign with four games on Sept. 29, a Friday.

The matchups: Defending champion Tochigi Brex vs. SeaHorses Mikawa, Kawasaki Brave Thunders vs. Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, Yokohama B-Corsairs vs. Lakestars and Ryukyu Golden Kings vs. Sunrockers Shibuya.

A busy day follows on Sept. 30 as the opening weekend begins in earnest.

Crowd-pleasing highlights

Among the video clips making the rounds on YouTube and Twitter this week is a dazzling exchange between Japan national team guard Yuki Togashi and power forward Ira Brown at the FIBA Asia Cup on Monday in Beirut.

Togashi, the Chiba Jets Funabashi’s offensive quarterback, is seen in third-quarter action delivering a crisp alley-oop pass to Brown, who emphatically slams the ball through the net in the quarterfinal qualifier against South Korea.

Togashi also had a nice 360-spin move in the lane, finishing off the play with a layup, banking the ball off the glass in style.

Japan dropped the match 81-68, ending its tourney with a 2-2 record.

The aforementioned power jam, though, demonstrated the growing synergy between Togashi and the national team’s veterans.

No slowing down

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, the well-traveled former Kyoto Hannaryz and NBA guard, is making significant contributions for the 3-Headed Monsters during the Big 3’s inaugural season.

Through Week 8, Abdul-Rauf is second overall in assists (22), trailing only Mike Bibby of the Ghost Ballers (30). He’s also tied for second in steals (six).

The 48-year-old Abdul-Rauf, who played professionally in several nations after leaving the NBA, is averaging 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the halfcourt summer circuit, which features a number of former NBA standouts.

The Big 3 postseason begins this weekend.

New addition

Former Arizona State post player Eric Jacobsen has joined the B2’s Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka, who were promoted from the third division during the offseason .

The announcement was made on Tuesday.

The 208-cm Jacobsen spent last season with the Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s NBL.

He played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Summer League, appearing in seven games and averaging 3.4 points.

“Eric has a great basketball body for a young player,” former Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said of Jacobsen when he joined the Pac-12 team in 2012. “He moves exceptionally well, both with his running the floor as well as his lateral agility for a young man his size.

“He has good hands. He can score inside and out and I think he has an edge and toughness about him that will really help our program.”

Further reading

Here is this reporter’s exclusive interview with Hamilton in 2016: www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2016/05/18/basketball/bj-league/gunmas-hamilton-happy-to-help-others-shine/

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