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Turmoil continues for Hannaryz

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

It’s been a tumultuous offseason for the Kyoto Hannaryz.

In the past few weeks, headlines across the nation have generated negative publicity for the club. First, there was the shocking news that Hannaryz big man Yuya Nagayoshi was one of four Japan men’s national players who confessed to paying for sexual services while in Indonesia for the recent Asian Games. Nagayoshi, Takuya Hashimoto (Osaka Evessa), Takuma Sato (Shiga Lakestars) and Keita Imamura (Niigata Albirex BB) received one-year bans from the Japan Basketball Association from national team activities.

Then this: Shooting guard Taku Bando was arrested on suspicion of stealing ¥5,000 from a female acquaintance’s wallet at a restaurant in Fushimi, Kyoto Prefecture, on Aug. 30, according to published reports.

The Hannaryz terminated the 26-year-old Bando’s contract on Tuesday.

Just weeks away from the start of the season, the Kyoto front office is in crisis mode, trying to refocus the attention to the on-court product. (The Hannaryz open their season on Oct. 6 against the host San-en NeoPhoenix.)

Kyoto team president and CEO Norihiko Takada issued a statement on Wednesday, addressing Bando’s departure and the team’s general state of affairs.

“We apologize deeply to the people who were initially victimized by the incident, and we sincerely apologize to the fans who are cheering for the Kyoto Hannaryz, sponsors and local government administrations who support us, the B. League and basketball,” Takada said. “We deeply apologize for the great inconvenience to many people concerned, including the association (JBA), and I am really sorry. . . . We are strongly aware that social responsibility is very serious and I apologize for any inconveniences caused to you by everyone.”

According to Takada, his repeated message to the entire organization stresses the fact that above all his players are members of society. He added that they must bear responsibility for their actions, saying the team must focus on being role models for children and building Kyoto’s basketball culture.

Takada will take a 20 percent salary reduction for three months, while general manager Tatsuya Abe and longtime head coach Honoo Hamaguchi were given 10 percent pay cuts for the next two months, the team announced on Wednesday.

Bando, who hails from Takamatsu, appeared in 42 games last season for Kyoto. He playing sparingly and averaged 1.7 points a game. He began his pro career with the Kagawa Five Arrows in 2017.

Big signing

High-scoring forward Le’Bryan Nash is back in Japan after playing overseas during the past two seasons.

The former Fukushima Firebonds star finalized a deal with the B2’s Hachioji Bee Trains in August.

Nash, who starred at Oklahoma State, began his pro career with the Firebonds and made quite a splash as a rookie in the bj-league’s final season. He scored 30 or more points in his first five regular-season games, including a 47-point outburst against the Gunma Crane Thunders in the fourth contest.

In addition, he set the league’s single-game scoring record with a 54-point performance against the Shinshu Brave Warriors. He won the scoring crown with 26.6 points per game in the 2015-16 campaign and claimed All-Star Game MVP honors in Sendai.

“I’m really excited to be back in Japan to play and will do my best to put my team in the best position to win a lot of games,” the 201-cm Nash said in a statement posted on the team website on Aug. 24.

He suited up for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Summer League in 2016, then played for the NBA Development League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2016-17, followed by a stint with the Sonic Boom KT in South Korea this past season and averaged 18.6 points and 5.7 rebounds in 27 games.

Last weekend, the Bee Trains announced their team slogan for this season: “Show time.” It’s a good description of Nash’s playing style.

New challenge

Antoine Broxsie, a former Takamatsu, Saitama and Chiba big man, has joined the Memphis Grizzlies as a coaching staff assistant.

Broxsie will work with the NBA team’s big men and handle some video editing and player development duties, it was announced recently.

“It’s going to be a great and fun year, and I’m looking forward to learning so much in my path to becoming more,” Broxsie wrote in a Facebook post.

The 38-year-old began his pro career in 2003 after splitting time at the University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State. He wrapped up his playing days in 2017 in China.