Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Taguchi’s range from downtown boosts Akita

by Ed Odeven

In this era of rapid-fire 3-point shooting, Shigehiro Taguchi stands out as a consummate threat.

He’s always looking for a chance to launch his shot from beyond the arc. But the 3-pointer isn’t the only weapon in his offensive arsenal. He’s a dependable mid-range shooter and a capable finisher in the lane.

To open the 2017-18 season, however, Taguchi has been superb from 3-point range. His scorching 61 percent shooting tops the chart in the second division for the unbeaten Akita Northern Happinets (9-0), who extended their season-long win streak with a 70-58 triumph over the host Yamagata Wyverns on Wednesday. Akita’s latest victory included Taguchi’s 22-point (4 of 5 on 3s, 8-for-8 at the foul line), four-assist effort.

Over the past five games, Taguchi has buried 16 of 24 attempts — that’s Stephen Curry territory, folks. Taguchi knocked down 7 of 9 3s in a 24-point performance against the Shinshu Brave Warriors on Oct. 15. After missing all four of his long-range shots on Oct. 21 against the Aomori Wat’s in a quiet two-point outing, the Akita native sank 3 of 3 from deep range in a solid bounce-back, 16-point effort the next day against the same club.

“When I can hit them (3-pointers), I’ll try to hit them,” Taguchi told Sports Hochi earlier this month.

Taguchi, the Happinets’ leading scorer (14.0 points per game), made his pro debut with the team toward the end of the 2011-12 bj-league season, when he appeared in 14 contests. He’s been a fixture on the court for Akita ever since, helping the Happinets earn back-to-back championship runner-up finishes in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. (For the second title runner-up squad, Taguchi started all 52 regular-season games, averaging 16.3 ppg.)

Now, after being relegated to B2 for the current season, Akita is determined to earn a promotion back to the first division for the 2018-19 campaign.

In pursuit of that goal, Taguchi, the team captain, is being showcased as the offensive centerpiece.

It’s working. The 184-cm Taguchi, owner of a lethal jump shot and the 3-Point Contest champion at the B. League’s inaugural All-Star Game in January, is flourishing.

Big man Kadeem Coleby, a Wichita State alum and native of the Bahamas, is the team’s second scoring option (11.4 ppg), giving Akita a productive option in the post.

The Happinets’ impressive start under first-year Spanish coach Josep “Pep” Claros puts them in direct competition with the West Division’s Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka (also 9-0) for B2 bragging rights.

Fukuoka is getting a big boost from top scorer Eric Jacobsen (19.4 ppg, No. 5 in the second division) and Josh Peppers (17.6), an established star in Japan dating back to the 2007-08 season.

Wednesday highlights

All 36 first- and second-division teams were in action on Wednesday night. Unlike the standard schedule of two games in two days, these encounters were one-offs.

Among the big numbers from Wednesday: Kawasaki’s Nick Fazekas scored 40 points in the Brave Thunders’ 99-91 defeat to the host Alvark Tokyo.

J.R. Sakuragi, who turns 41 on Monday, led the SeaHorses Mikawa to a 92-87 win over the host San-en NeoPhoenix, providing 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. He also converted 13 of 18 shots from the floor.

Looking ahead

The schedule returns to its usual format this weekend. Kawasaki faces Niigata in the lone series set to tip off on Friday. In addition to the high-scoring Fazekas (No. 2 in B1 at 26.6 ppg), the two-game set will feature Albirex big man Davante Gardner, who’s the league leading scorer (32.3).

The Saturday-Sunday series are as follows: Mikawa vs. Nagoya, Hokkaido vs. Tochigi, Tokyo vs. Toyama, San-en vs. Shiga, Osaka vs. Nishinomiya, Shibuya vs. Yokohama, Kyoto vs. Shimane and Ryukyu vs. Chiba.

Catching up with . . . Kibwe Trim

The former Ryukyu Golden Kings and Kyoto Hannaryz big man, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, has published his first book, “From Nerd To Pro,” this month.

The motivational tome is “intended for people of all ages and walks of life,” Trim wrote in a news release. “It is for young people who need motivation to keep going in spite of the odds stacked against them. It is also for adults who are looking for a source of inspiration or encouragement in their daily lives.”

Trim, who helped the Golden Kings win a bj-league title in May 2014, attended Sacred Heart University, a Northeast Conference school. A 10-year pro, he also suited up for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Summer League in ’06.

The photo on the book’s cover shows Trim celebrating Ryukyu’s title.

These days, Trim, who resides in Los Angeles, has been busy promoting his book, making promotional stops in Trinidad. Making a stop at St. Mary’s College, which includes the high school he graduated from in Port of Spain, Trim spent time with students this week.

St. Mary’s history teacher Jerome Spence, a former high school basketball teammate of Trim’s, appreciated the visit.

“I am always grateful to Kibwe for coming back and giving back to the boys,” Spence was quoted as saying by Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. “Knowing Kibwe personally, he is a positive person and I just wanted the boys to meet someone who had overcome what persons might consider circumstances that could be negative and make that into a positive.”

This week, Trim also caught up with The Japan Times to discuss his project, which is a part of The DreamChaser International Foundation, a nonprofit organization that he founded to provide tutoring, mentoring and financial aid to youth.

What sparked your desire to write the book?

Trim: Ever since I received a scholarship as a teenager to play basketball in the U.S. I knew that when I had the opportunity I would do something to impact young people coming after me. It’s for that reason I founded The DreamChaser International Foundation. I felt that writing the book and sharing my journey of what it took for me to achieve the things that I did would be a great motivational tool for anyone that reads it.

Was it a specific mood or idea that you kept feeling again and again?

As I mentioned before this is a desire that I’ve had beginning a long time ago and that I believe I will always have. I believe that part of the reason that I am on this earth is to inspire and motivate people, especially the youth.

How long approximately did the project take from start to finish?

This project actually took me about three to four months to complete. I had dragged my feet on a book with a different concept that I had started writing a few years ago so with this one I was determined to complete it in a timely fashion.

Was most of the writing done using a journal for the first batch of ideas? Or did you use a computer every day, every few days, to put your thoughts down?

I never used a journal. Daily I wrote down notes of memories and things that I wanted to talk about on my laptop until I felt as if I had enough content to write a complete book. Once I had enough I began the process of organization and turning it into a flowing story.

Citing young people as a target audience, do you have an age range in particular that you’re focusing on reaching?

The book is a feel good motivational tool for anyone that desires to read. Especially though young people in their formative years between the ages of 6-18, I believe can get a lot of value from a book like this which can influence choices they make in determining their future.

Are there a few writers you truly admire and/or look to for inspiration and styles of writing you find you learn from and help you improve your own writing?

Honestly I read so many books when I was younger but in my older age I read more magazines, online publications and things of the sort. A specific favorite writer does not come to mind at the moment but the last good book I read was “The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success” by Deepak Chopra.

New opportunity

Ex-Sendai 89ers forward Kevin Coble, a Northwestern University product, has joined the Dallas Mavericks as a player development coach.

Coble played for the 89ers in the 2012-13 season.