Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Masashi Hosoya heating up on offense for Yokohama

by Ed Odeven

Masashi Hosoya doesn’t pour in 25-30 points every game. He is, however, a solid scoring option for the Yokohama B-Corsairs.

Exhibit A: Sunday’s game against the Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka, when Hosoya maximized his time on the court. He played with purpose from start to finish, made timely shots and helped the B-Corsairs pick up a much-needed victory and improve to 4-13 on the season.

In their 85-73 win at Yokohama International Swimming Pool (which isn’t visible during hoop festivities), Hosoya made a big splash. He scored a season-high 23 points, including five first-half 3-pointers, in 27 minutes, 42 seconds of playing time. Incidentally, he surpassed his previous season-best offensive output of 22 points — a six 3-pointer outing — against the Shiga Lakestars on Oct. 20, when he played exactly one fewer minute (26:42).

B-Corsairs coach Tom Wisman said Hosoya, one of two team captains along with fellow guard Alexis Minatoya, makes vital contributions.

“He’s a shooter and he’s a streak shooter, and he can really get going,” Wisman observed. “And when he does that, obviously that ignites us and it’s great to have that.

“It’s something that we’ve just got to remind him — sometimes slow down, sometimes go fast. He’s a hundred miles an hour (161 kph) all the time, so we’re trying to get him to use that. But that’s kind of what makes him who he is. He’s a spark plug, and he’s got a big heart and he goes hard on it.”

The 29-year-old Hosoya is averaging 9.4 points and 2.2 assists in 17 games (five starts).

Power forward Javon McCrea, who’s in his first season with Yokohama, is impressed by Hosoya’s dedication to the game.

Asked what he believes is the 173-cm Hosoya’s biggest attribute as a player, McCrea responded by saying, “I think it’s his work ethic. He works hard. In practice, he’s always doing it before and afterwards. He shoots a lot, and he really works on his shot.”

Because of this commitment to improving his game, Hosoya has gained his teammates’ trust, said McCrea, who played college ball at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

“Every time I pass to him, I feel like he’s going to make the shot,” McCrea said, “inside the perimeter and even sometimes he scores over bigger defenders. But he works on his game so much to the point where I’m like, I know he’s going to be able to make the shot.”

Hosoya, who began his pro career with the TGI D-Rise in 2012 in the JBL2, told reporters on Sunday that he’s confident in his shooting ability, which comes from repetition and lofty goals.

The Kanagawa Prefecture native offered an example. He said that he regularly takes part in a 100-shot drill from the perimeter. His goal? To make 85-90 shots. “I have done that,” he said with a grin, and added that he wants to do so “again and again.”

“Every day I’m confident,” he said in general terms of his approach to the game.

Wisman confirmed that Hosoya always makes the most of his practice regimen.

“He is a rhythm shooter,” the coach said, “and a tireless worker. He is always the last to leave the gym and routinely finishes with 100 shots.”

Recollections of Padre Riles

Fukuoka center Dexter Pittman brings a unique perspective to the B. League, witnessing the up-close intensity of longtime Miami Heat president Pat Riley and former Heat superstar LeBron James.

The University of Texas alumni, who had 36- and 23-point games last weekend against the B-Corsairs, suited up for the Heat from 2010-13, appearing in 41 regular-season games in that span. He later saw time with the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks. This season, he’s averaging 20.0 points and 8.0 rebounds.

Now 30, Pittman said the game is “more mental now than physical for me, and I’ve got to continue to get my teammates involved.” He admitted that James and former Texas teammate Kevin Durant helped him grow as a player, stressing the need to be a team-first player.

“I don’t want to be just a back-to-the-basket scorer. Overall I want to make everybody better and be a good teammate. That’s my goal,” Pittman stated.

Pittman, a second-round pick (32nd overall) of the Heat in the 2010 NBA Draft, discussed Riley’s imposing overseer’s role in a post-game interview on Sunday, including an exceptional explanation of what it was like having Padre Riles as his boss.

“He’s the Godfather,” Pittman admitted. “He mentally breaks you. He mentally psyches you or mentally prepares you. I love Coach Riley to this day because of the way he made me mentally strong. There were some days he’d bring me in the gym with (our development coach) and make me do things that weren’t even basketball to see if I was gonna break, and then if I did, he’ll bring me in the office and tell me why I did that, so yeah I love Coach Riley and I still love him to this day.”

With Riley, whose second stint coaching the Heat ended in 2008, running the organization, every practice is designed to force players to go all-out, according to Pittman, who attended B. F. Terry High School in Rosenberg, Texas, near Houston.

“I remember one time in (Las) Vegas I wasn’t playing good in Summer League, and he pulled me out at halftime and wanted me to go in the sub-gym and start running,” Pittman told The Japan Times. “He made me run up and down the gym and do (full-court) drills instead of play.”

There was — and this remains true — no quit in Riley. But his approach brought results: His legendary time as a bench boss produced four NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and another with the Heat.

Pittman claimed he once worked 146 consecutive days under Riley’s watchful eye when he was with the Heat.

“He told me one time, ‘You know what we do to Kentucky Derby horses that can’t work?’ We take them out back, and pow, put a bullet in ’em.’ So that says enough right there,” Pittman said.

“But he’s a great guy, man, I’m glad he made me mentally tough and prepared me for the future. That’s what he taught me.”

A look ahead

This weekend’s schedule commences on Friday, with all 18 top-flight teams in action. Here are the matchups: Akita vs. Mikawa, Toyama vs. Nagoya, San-en vs. Chiba, Shiga vs. Shibuya, Tokyo vs. Kyoto, Yokohama vs. Ryukyu, Osaka vs. Hokkaido, Fukuoka vs. Niigata and Kawasaki vs. Tochigi.

After the weekend games wrap up, all B1 and B2 teams are on autumn break until Dec. 7 as the next phase of 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers gets underway. Most teams are back on the court, though, on Dec. 8.

The Japan national team plays host to Qatar on Nov. 30 and Kazakhstan on Dec. 3. Both games will be contested in Toyama.

Update on ex-Apache staff

Casey Hill and Natalie Nakase, who served under Bob Hill on the now-defunct Tokyo Apache coaching staff during the 2010-11 bj-league season, were promoted to Los Angeles Clippers bench boss Doc Rivers’ staff before the current season got underway.

Hill guided the NBA G League’s Agua Caliente Clippers to a 23-27 record last season, while Nakase served as an assistant during the team’s inaugural campaign. He also worked as the Santa Cruz Warriors head coach in the NBA G League, formerly known as the NBA Development League, guiding the club to a league title in 2014-15.

Nakase is on the Clippers’ player development staff. She previously worked for three seasons as the Clippers’ assistant video coordinator.

The elder Hill coached in the NBA for years, including time running the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Seattle SuperSonics.