Disgraced basketball players face the music after sex scandal

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The four men’s national basketball team players who were penalized by the Japanese Olympic Committee for allegedly paying women for sex last weekend in Jakarta, where they were competing at the ongoing Asian Games, were sent home on Monday and faced up to the media at a Tokyo news conference.

“To those who are associated with the Japan Basketball Association, (my B. League club) Kyoto Hannaryz, all those who are on the Japanese delegation for the Asian Games, and my teammates and staff, I deeply regret our rash act,” Yuya Nagayoshi, one of the four, said.

Takuya Hashimoto (Osaka Evessa), Takuma Sato (Shiga Lakestars) and Keita Imamura (Niigata Albirex BB) are the other three players who were involved in the incident.

Asked about the fact that the players were wearing JOC-distributed national team uniforms at the time of the incident, Nagayoshi said after a moment of silence: “The lack of my understanding and awareness (of representing Japan) led to this act.”

JBA chairperson Yuko Mitsuya said that she felt responsible for letting down the other members of the men’s basketball team — which must now compete with only eight players in Indonesia — other officials in the delegation and the boys and girls who have supported the sport with the dream of one day playing for their country.

“I talked with delegation chief Yasuhiro Yamashita earlier and I was scolded by him,” Mitsuya said. “I very much regret that we did not send someone from the JBA to supervise the team and that we did not educate them enough.”

Mitsuya said that the JBA would establish an independent committee that will consist of lawyers to discuss potential punishment for the four players.

The JBA was suspended by FIBA, the sport’s world governing body, between 2014-2015 for poor governance, and the men’s national squad has not been guaranteed a spot at the 2020 Olympic tournament in Tokyo.

Mitsuya said that the JBA must make every possible effort to prove that Japanese basketball is going in the right direction, but added that the Asian Games incident is a devastating blow.

Mitsuya said that the JBA had reported the matter to FIBA.