Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

NeoPhoenix retool roster as former NBA forward Josh Childress rejoins team

by Ed Odeven

Teams are reshaping their rosters and rotations as the season quickly marches closer to the midway point.

Before the midweek slate of games on Wednesday, teams had already played in 20 percent of their 60 regular-season contests. In that dirty dozen of competition, observers saw the dominance of four title-chasing teams at the top — the Tochigi Brex, Chiba Jets Funabashi, Ryukyu Golden Kings and Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, all of whom had 10 wins and two defeats through Sunday.

And now it’s time for adjustments: to maintain top form or seek a way make subtle improvements that could be the difference between a win or a loss — and a realistic shot at playoff participation.

The San-en NeoPhoenix, who were 3-7 in their last 10 games before Wednesday’s clash with the host Yokohama B-Corsairs, made a big move this week by announcing the acquisition of veteran forward Josh Childress. San-en was 4-8 before the aforementioned game, and coach Hiroki Fujita’s club faces an uphill climb to vie for a playoff berth.

“With the addition of Childress, the atmosphere of the team becomes brighter, and we will pursue an edge-effective basketball (style) that is interesting to watch,” NeoPhoenix general manager Seiichiro Kage said in a statement.

The No. 6 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Childress rejoins the B. League team he played for in the 2016-17 campaign. In recent years, he’s also suited up for teams in Australia (Adelaide 36ers, Sydney Kings) and the summer Big 3 circuit. Before that, he was the Greek League Cup’s top scorer in 2010 while playing for Olympiacos.

In his NBA years, the 203-cm Childress competed for the Atlanta Hawks (who drafted him), Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans, appearing in 391 regular-season NBA games (9.1 points per game).

“I am excited for the opportunity to join NeoPhoenix again,” Childress said in a news release posted on the San-en website. “I really enjoyed playing in front of the boosters and I look forward to working hard and having fun on the court.”

In 2016-17, Childress averaged 18.6 points and 9.5 rebounds for the NeoPhoenix in 38 games (35 starts).

Impressive form

Last weekend, SeaHorses Mikawa sharpshooter Kosuke Kanamaru reminded anyone who wasn’t paying attention that he remains one of the third-year circuit’s premier scorers, especially from the perimeter.

In a Saturday triumph over the Toyama Grouses, the 29-year-old Kanamaru sank 8 of 14 3-pointers and finished with a headline-grabbing 33 points.

A day later, in another Mikawa win (the team’s seventh straight), he was at it again, flushing 8 of 12 from long range in a 31-point outburst.

Planells update

Hernando Planells, the first bench boss in Golden Kings history (2007-08), is adding a new item to his extensive basketball resume: New Zealand under-17 women’s national team head coach.

Basketball New Zealand made the announcement on Monday.

“I have followed New Zealand basketball for some time now,” Planells said. “I attend FIBA events every year and keep track of players all over the world. I’ve always admired how hard the New Zealand teams play, their pride in their country, and how well they worked together as a team. Playing for your country is a huge honor and responsibility, and to be allowed this opportunity for New Zealand basketball is humbling and exciting.”

Planells joined the Duke University women’s coaching staff as director of relations in the summer of 2012. Since then, he’s been given greater responsibilities, first as assistant coach and, since 2016, as associate head coach. He has also worked as an NBA scout and guided the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League (now known as the NBA G League) before starting to work at Duke.

Up next: Planells, 42, will be tasked with preparing the New Zealand U-17 squad for the 2019 Oceania Championships, which will be held next August in New Caledonia.