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Brave Thunders captain Ryusei Shinoyama surprised and upbeat about team’s impending ownership change

by

Staff Writer

Energetic veteran Ryusei Shinoyama said that he did not get upset with the announcement because he is competing in an anything-can-happen professional sports circuit.

One day after the news that the ownership of the Kawasaki Brave Thunders would be handed from Toshiba Corporation to DeNA Corporation next year, the team’s point guard and captain addressed the media about the change for the traditional powerhouse club.

The 29-year-old said that the team members were informed about it after their Tuesday practice by Masami Araki, the president of the ballclub, Toshiba Business and Life Service Corporation (TBLS).

Shinoyama said that the players had not been given any hits a potential ownership switch before the occasion. But he added that the announcement wasn’t a bolt from the blue for the players and staff because a Japanese sports paper reported before the 2017-18 season tipped off that former Yokohama DeNA BayStars president Jun Ikeda and his enterprise group were attempting to purchase the team.

“We were very surprised (about the report on Ikeda’s group),” Shinoyama said at the team’s practice facility on Thursday. “But at the same time, we thought that it could happen being in a professional sport. Just looking around other sports as well, it’s not very rare that ownerships are moving from one to another.”

Largely because DeNA has done well both in its baseball business operations and competing on the diamond since it assumed the ownership before the 2012 season, Shinoyama takes the move positively.

But he also referred to the impact of the team becoming a professional club with the inauguration of the B. League. The Brave Thunders had been a semi-professional industrial team before that.

Toshiba announced on Wednesday that it would retain its industrial-league baseball and rugby teams despite it being in a rebuilding phase from a major accounting scandal.

Shinoyama insisted that he thought the Brave Thunders would “go in a different path” from the baseball and rugby squads as a pro team. Technically, the Brave Thunders are owned by TBLS, while the baseball and rugby teams are part of Toshiba’s main body.

“We’ve played with Toshiba as our main sponsor (since we’ve turned into a pro team),” said Shinoyama, who competed in the first two games of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers for the Japan national team last month. “So it was like, even if Toshiba could no longer have the team, they could hand it to another owner company.”

Shinoyama admitted he was a little amazed that the team has transformed its shape so quickly and dramatically in the last few years. The sport had entered a new era with the major overhaul of the Japan Basketball Association and the inception of the B. League in 2016.

Before the B. League, all Japanese players on the Brave Thunders lived in half-Toshiba employee and half-athlete days when the team was playing in the Japan Basketball League and National Basketball League. Back then, they would work at their offices in the morning and practice and play games in the afternoon.

Now, all the players are on professional contracts, which is required by the B. League, and will be competing under someone not named Toshiba in the league’s third campaign.

“This is something I didn’t even dream of when I joined this club,” said Shinoyama, who became a Brave Thunder in 2011 coming out of Nihon University. “We’ve faced some dazzling changes in the last few years. But this is all for basketball here to become bigger.”

Shinoyama, who has averaged 9.9 points and 3.8 assists this year, confessed he was a little worried with the team going into a new environment next year. But overall, he has high expectations for DeNA, which has set some successful examples running the BayStars.

“I’m from Yokohama and have seen the BayStars since they were under the ownership of TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc.),” said the popular player, who will compete in next month’s B. League All-Star Game in Kumamoto. “And since DeNA took over, they have improved their attendance and competitiveness. They even went to the Japan Series this year. So it makes me feel that they’ve genuinely made growth as a professional team.”