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Jets, Kings set for inaugural Super 8 tourney

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Next week, the Chiba Jets Funabashi and Ryukyu Golden Kings will test their mettle against some of Asia’s top club teams.

The Super 8, an inaugural regional tournament set to be held from Sept. 20-24 in Macau, will also feature teams from China (Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, Shenzhen Leopard), Taiwan (Pauian Archiland, Fubon Braves) and South Korea (Seoul Samsung Thunders, Goyang Orion Orions).

Ending five days before the 2017-18 B. League season tips off, The Super 8 will showcase a different mix of talented squads and coaching tactics, keeping the Jets and Golden Kings on their toes as they work to be in top form when the new campaign commences.

Jeremy Lin’s younger brother Joe plays for Fubon.

Meanwhile, familiar faces and several newcomers dot the Ryukyu and Chiba rosters, and for the first time since the Kings’ inaugural 2007-08 season Keith Richardson is not on the coaching staff. Richardson stepped down from his key position as an assistant to a more limited role as an adviser.

For the Jets, ex-University of Connecticut player Gavin Edwards, a steady presence for the SeaHorses bridging the team’s Aisin and Mikawa eras (2013-17), joined the squad as a prominent offseason pickup.

The tournament will divide the eight teams into Group A and Group B, with three games apiece over the first three days. The top two in each group will advance to the semifinals on Sept. 23, and the third-place consolation game and final are schedule for Sept. 24 at Studio City Event Center.

IMG is on board as the event operator, adding prestige and pizzazz.

It will be interesting to see what kind of following the tournament gets from hoop fans and media across east Asia, and what organizers have in store for The Super 8 next year.

Meeting with Kobe

Bob Pierce, a well-known figure in Japan basketball circles, after coaching stints in the JBL and bj-league over the past two decades, keeps busy teaching the game in China these days.

He’s been working as an assistant on China’s Under-18 men’s national team coaching staff.

Since July 2013, he’s been the director of instruction for Five-Star China Sports in Shenzhen, China.

On Wednesday, NBA legend Kobe Bryant visited Shenzhen. He went to Shenzhen Bay Gymnasium, which will host some games at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, to watch 45 minutes of Five-Star’s youth basketball practice, meeting up with Pierce.

“He was genuinely interested in the kids, excited to see them execute a dribble handoff during a fast break drill, and really happy to see the aggressive play of Vicky Zhu and Lee Li,” Pierce told The Japan Times, highlighting the skills of two of his longtime schoolgirl pupils. “This was a day most of these kids will never forget.”

He added: “Kobe has been coming to China for years. It helped shape his brand. But he really cares about the kids here. It was fun to see him genuinely excited to see what these young kids were doing.”

Childress on the move

After starring for the San-en NeoPhoenix last season and for the Big3’s Ball Hogs in the new summer circuit, veteran forward Josh Childress is trying to again land a spot on an NBA team’s opening day roster.

Childress, the No. 6 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, has agreed to a non-guaranteed one-year deal with the Denver Nuggets, according to published reports.

This will send him to training camp, giving him a chance to try out for the Nuggets. Denver now has 17 players under contract, The Sporting News reported.

Childress, a 34-year-old Stanford University alum, averaged 18.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 blocks in 38 games for the NeoPhoenix.

Posthumus update

Canadian big man Chad Posthumus, who split time with the B. League’s Kagoshima Rebnise, Sunrockers Shibuya and Shinshu Brave Warriors last season, is trying to make the Oklahoma City Thunder roster. He’s currently in Oklahoma City for preseason workouts with the team.

Tohoku Early Cup

In last weekend’s six-team Tohoku Early Cup, the Akita Northern Happinets claimed the top prize, beating the host Yamagata Wyverns 82-54 in the tourney finale.

The triumph gives new Happinets coach Josep “Pep” Claros a positive building block for his club’s rebuilding project after demotion to the second division.