Basketball / B. League

Brave Thunders star Nick Fazekas becomes Japanese citizen

Staff Report

Kawasaki Brave Thunders center Nick Fazekas has obtained Japanese citizenship, the B. League team announced on Thursday.

The 210-cm player, in his fifth season in Japan, is recognized as one of the premier players in the top men’s hoop circuit. Fazekas was voted the Most Valuable Player after being the leading scorer (27.1 points) in the B. League’s inaugural season last year.

Going into this weekend, the 32-year-old is second in the first division in scoring (25.2) and first in rebounding (10.9),

Kawasaki, which will face the visiting Kyoto Hannaryz at Todoroki Arena on Friday and Saturday, is in the third place in the East Division with a 37-18 record and has already secured a postseason spot.

Fazekas led the Brave Thunders to two championships in the NBL, one of the predecessors of the B. League. He could help the struggling Japan men’s national team, which is fighting for a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In a team-issued statement, Fazekas said that he has decided to become a naturalized Japanese citizen because he has become a fan of the warm and gentle personality of the country’s people and wanted to play in Kawasaki as long as he could.

Fazekas was a three-time Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year during his distinguished collegiate career at the University of Nevada. He was selected in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. The Colorado native played in 26 games combined for the Mavs and Los Angeles Clippers in the 2007-08 season.

Fazekas will remain as a non-Japanese player for the Brave Thunders against the Hannaryz this weekend, yet could play as a Japanese after that. The B. League allows each team to use up to two non-Japanese players on the floor at the same time.