Basketball / B. League

89ers finalize deal with veteran leader Jerome Tillman for 2019-20 season

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Sendai 89ers orchestrated a dramatic turnaround under first-year bench boss Dai Oketani this past season.

The 89ers won 40 of 60 regular-season games, a 19-win improvement over the previous campaign. And with the foundation of Oketani’s system in place, the 89ers are looking to build off the success they achieved last season.

One big key to the second-division team’s success last season was veteran forward Jerome Tillman, who averaged 22.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 40 games (40 starts).

The 32-year-old Ohio University alum agreed to the terms of a contract for the upcoming season late last week.

“I’m happy to be back with the 89ers for the upcoming season,” said Tillman, who previously played for the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins (2016-18) and Levanga Hokkaido (2013-16). “I am looking forward to having a great season and the challenge of competing to win a championship.”

In related news, former 89ers shooting guard Masaharu Kataoka recently finalized a deal to return to Sendai for next season. He suited up for the Kyoto Hannaryz for the past season two seasons.

Happinets sign Furukawa

The Akita Northern Happinets, a B1 club, on Tuesday announced that sharpshooter Takatoshi Furukawa has accepted a contract for the 2019-20 season.

The 32-year-old Furukawa, who was named the B. League Final MVP in 2017 while with the Tochigi Brex, spent the past two seasons with the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

The 190-cm small forward had a season-best game in the playoffs against Nagoya, scoring 26 points on 10-for-13 shooting (5 of 6 on 3-pointers) on April 26.

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