Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Bob and Bobby Nash reunite on Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka

Father, son join bench boss Ryuji Kawai's staff as associate head coach, assistant

by Ed Odeven

After an ultra-successful 2017-18 season that concluded with the B. League second-division winner’s trophy, the Rizing Fukuoka Zephyr have added valuable experience to their coaching staff.

It’s the father-son tandem of Bob and Bobby Nash, who return to Japan to work alongside Fukuoka bench boss Ryuji Kawai.

Working together is a familiar theme for the Nashes.

It’s now entering its fourth iteration.

They served as head coach and player, respectively, on the Saitama Broncos during the 2010-11 season, and worked together on the Toyama Grouses from 2015-17, with Bobby, who turns 34 in August, gaining his first coaching experience in the pro ranks.

Bob Nash also coached his son at the University of Hawaii, his alma mater, and where he rose to national prominence as a college basketball star in the early 1970s before his pro career was launched. (Bob Nash, a forward in his playing days, was a first-round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons in 1972.)

A week after the coaching hires were formally announced, The Japan Times caught up with the elder Nash on Tuesday for a brief interview.

“Bobby and I are extremely happy to have this opportunity to return to coaching in Japan. Japan is near and dear to our hearts for so many reasons,” he told The Japan Times.

“We appreciate the recommendations from the players who trusted our abilities as coaches and friends.”

Bob Nash, now 68, left the Grouses after the 2016-17 season, his fifth at the helm. He led Toyama to a championship runner-up finish in 2015-16, the bj-league’s final season. The Grouses had four straight winning seasons before stumbling to 18-42 in Nash’s fifth season in charge.

Now, he’s recharged and ready for a new challenge.

So how special is it to be reunited with family for this next coaching challenge?

“I’m blessed to once again coach with my son and help mentor him in his quest to someday be a head coach,” Nash said.

And what stands out about Coach Kawai’s style as a team leader? About the way his team plays?

“Coach Kawai is an excellent tactician on both offense and defense,” Bob Nash said of the 42-year-old former Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, Shinshu Brave Warriors and Ehime Orange Vikings bench boss. “His teams are always prepared.”

The Rizing went 47-13 last season en route to the West Division title in B2. It was Kawai’s first season at the helm, taking over a team that earned promotion from B3 in the B. League’s inaugural campaign.

Now, after that banner season, with positive momentum carrying over into the summer, Nash joins a club with a clear-cut goal: to be a competitive force in the top flight.

Nash also revealed that team management offered him a chance to lead Fukuoka, but he didn’t want to shove Kawai aside.

“Originally, I was ask to join the staff as the head coach but Coach Kawai and I have been friends for many years,” the University of Hawaii legend stated. “True coaching friends don’t step over each other. I am comfortable in myself and abilities, so the title didn’t matter to me. I want the team and organization to continue on a positive path.

“Under Coach Kawai leadership we joining forces to give our team every possibility to be successful as a B1 team.”

And he used a slogan to underline that point.

“Together We Rize Up Fukuoka!”

The elder Nash then added: “We ask the fans to support the team as we begin our journey in B1.”