Basketball / NBA

Watanabe solid in Vegas debut

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Undrafted free agent Yuta Watanabe had a solid NBA Summer League debut for the Brooklyn Nets on Friday in Las Vegas.

Watanabe, who came off the bench as a forward, scored eight points in 20 minutes. The former George Washington University standout made 3 of 9 shots from the field, including 2 of 6 from 3-point range. He had four rebounds, two assists and two blocks in Brooklyn’s 86-80 defeat to the Orlando Magic.

The Kagawa Prefecture native entered the game as a substitute at the 6:47 mark of the first quarter. His defensive awareness and aggressive play caught the eye of observers. “(Watanabe) showing off the defense early with two blocks,” @TimOakesblog tweeted. “Great defensive awareness off the ball.”

The Nets’ Summer League roster includes players from Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel and Latvia. Watanabe spoke about the team’s roster makeup before the Summer League began.

“As an international player, I feel very comfortable being here,” Watanabe told Newsday, a New York newspaper. “I’m really excited about this opportunity.”

He added: “It’s really fun to play with a lot of guys from different countries. It’s amazing.”

The Nets were scheduled to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday at Cox Pavilion. The Summer League runs through July 17.