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Jets place premium on continuity

by Ed Odeven

After a championship runner-up finish and the team’s first East Division regular-season title, the Chiba Jets Funabashi aren’t making wholesale changes as they prepare for the upcoming season.

Head coach Atsushi Ono, who has guided the Jets to 44- and 46-win campaigns in 2016-17 and this past season, respectively, will remain in charge, the team announced last Friday.

Assistant coaches Calvin Oldham and Yoshinori Kaneta are also both being retained.

Ono, who turns 40 on Aug. 12, looked back on the past season by saying it was a learning experience for his players, adding that he thinks the team “could grow tougher.” The Jets further developed their aggressive defense, according to Ono.

Looking ahead, Ono, who has a 90-30 regular-season record at Chiba, said in a news release that it’s his goal for the team to further refine the attitude of “fighting as a team” and continue to play high-energy basketball.

The Jets also announced they’ve re-signed several key players for the upcoming season, a vital step in building their roster for the B. League’s third season.

Standout forward Michael Parker, center Gavin Edwards, small forward Aki Chambers, shooting guard Kosuke Ishii and small forward/power forward Ryumo Ono have finalized deals to return to the team.

“I am excited to play another season for the Chiba Jets,” Parker said in a statement.

He added: “. . .I am proud to be part of this dominating team and look forward to next year. We have the most and best boosters in all of Japan as well as the best coaches, mascot and front (office) staff. There is nowhere else I would rather play.”

Edwards echoed Parker’s upbeat sentiment.

“I’m beyond happy to be returning to the Jets next season,” Edwards said. “We had a great season last year and I hope we have an even better one next season.”

For Chambers, the team’s next goal is quite clear: a title.

“Unfortunately we fell short one game of being B. League champions,” Chambers said. “But I’m looking forward to working hard next year so that we can pick up where we started last season.”

On the move

Shooting guard Jotaro Mitsuda has accepted an offer to play for the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins next season, the Central Division club announced on Tuesday.

As a rookie, the 188-cm Mitsuda played in 58 games (42 starts) for the Yokohama B-Corsairs this past season. He posted averages of 6.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He joined the squad in January 2017 while still in college.

The 24-year-old University of Tsukuba product said he’s committed to making an impact for Nagoya, citing energy and defense as areas where he wants to make his mark, according to a team-issued news release.

Scoring ace’s insights

After leading the B. League in scoring (28.7 points per game) in 2017-18, Niigata Albirex BB big man Davante Gardner provided some insights on his pre-game routine in an interview with the website Basketball King at the B. League Award Show last week. (Seven players participated in an event in which fans asked each of them 10 questions.)

Gardner, a Marquette University alum, said the variety of shots taken during practice is always beneficial to him.

“After hitting 3-point shots, I tried to hit it from a little more distant place, I tried changing the distance variously to adjust the power and sense of my arm,” Gardner told Basketball King. “If you are striking from the back of the 3-point line when practicing, the distance will be shorter when hitting from the 3-point line in the actual game. So I can tell myself that ‘it’s a simple shot,’ so I’m trying to hit it from a distance.”

Indeed, that diligence paid off for Gardner. He shot 57 percent from the floor this past season and also sank 44 3-pointers.