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Earthfriends Tokyo Z hand coaching reins to Satoru Furuta

by Ed Odeven

Less than a year after being dismissed as Yokohama B-Corsairs head coach, former Japan national team center/power forward Satoru Furuta is back as a sideline supervisor.

On Tuesday, the second-division Earthfriends Tokyo Z handed the coaching reins to the Aichi Prefecture native.

Furuta, who played for Japan at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Hiroshima, takes over a team that finished in last place (20-40 record) in the B2’s Central Division last season. He replaces Taku Saito on the bench.

Saito also served as Earthfriends head coach in 2013-14, followed by a stint as an assistant from 2014-17. He will remain with the team in a supporting role in its sports director’s office.

Joining Furuta on the revamped Tokyo coaching staff is Shunsuke Todo, who has worked in the WJBL, JBL and bj-league in past seasons. Todo maintains his position as the team’s associate head coach, it was reported on Wednesday. He was the Osaka Evessa head coach from 2013-15 in the bj-league era, and worked as an assistant for the Toyota Motors Antelopes (2015-17) in the WJBL before moving to the Earthfriends.

Last December, Furuta was fired after Yokohama opened the season with a 4-15 start.

In a news release, Furuta expressed disappointment about his departure from the B-Corsairs, describing it as a “regretful season.” He added that he’s grateful for another chance, saying he’s ready to lead Tokyo.

“I will continue to fight with the team as a whole,” Furuta said.

On the move

Veteran big man Faye Pape Mour, who helped the Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka capture the B2 title in May, has agreed to join the Osaka Evessa, it was announced on Tuesday.

The 200-cm Faye, who turns 31 on Friday, received a one-year deal.

A native of Senegal, he began his pro career in 2011 with the Yokohama B-Corsairs and helped them win the bj-league title the next season as a second-year franchise.

Faye has also suited up for the Chiba Jets, Hiroshima Dragonflies and Niigata Albirex BB. Last season, he appeared in 60 games (56 starts) and averaged 8.4 points for Fukuoka.

Reuniting with Oketani

Combo guard Masato Tsukino, who spent the past three seasons with the Kanazawa Samuraiz, recently reached an agreement with Sendai 89ers management to play for the Tohoku-based club in the 2018-19 campaign.

Tsukino averaged 8.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.3 steals while starting all 60 regular-season games for the Samuraiz in 2017-18, and shot 86.8 percent from the free-throw line.

Tsukino, 29, played a key role for the Iwate Big Bulls from 2012-15 under-then Iwate bench boss Dai Oketani, the new Sendai coach.

Also, 23-year-old shooting guard Keita Sawabe resumes his pro career in Sendai after beginning it as a young pupil on Oketani’s Evessa in 2016.

Staying put

Nishinomiya Storks assistant coach Akitomo Takeno, a popular player before his retirement in 2017, will begin his second season in a coaching role with the club, it was announced on Thursday. The Storks, who captured the B2 title in May 2017, have been demoted back to the second flight after a 12-48 campaign in the first division.