Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Yuta Tabuse returning to Brex for 12th season

by Ed Odeven

The Tochigi Brex fell short of their ultimate goal this past season as injuries took a toll on the title-chasing club.

But team management believes continuity is its best plan coming off a 49-11 campaign that ended in the playoff semifinals against the Chiba Jets Funabashi.

Which is why the 2019-20 version of the Brex roster will look quite similar to last season’s.

Already, in recent weeks, coach Ryuzo Anzai’s team has finalized contracts with veteran mainstays Ryan Rossiter, Jeff Gibbs, Yusuke Endo, Hironori Watanabe, Kosuke Takeuchi and other returning players.

On Monday, the Brex announced that former NBA point guard Yuta Tabuse, who was sidelined for most of last season with a lower back injury, will return for a 12th season with the team.

Tabuse was limited to 15 games last season, launching his comeback in late March. The former Phoenix Sun also appeared in all four Brex playoff games.

“I’d like to play every game with the whole team and (for) the fans, and I’d like to make Tochigi and the B. League more exciting,” Tabuse said in a team-issued news release.

Wth a core of veteran players, can the Brex, the 2016-17 champs, make one more run at the title this upcoming season?

That could be one of the more compelling themes to follow in the months ahead.

On the move

After two seasons in a Kyoto Hannaryz uniform, up-and-coming guard Tatsuya Ito has switched teams, moving to the Osaka Evessa, one of Kyoto’s top rivals since its inaugural 2009-10 bj-league season.

The 24-year-old Chiba native appeared in 48 games for the Hannaryz in 2018-19, averaging 8.8 points per game.

In other roster additions, power forward Ira Brown, who starred for the Ryukyu Golden Kings for the past two seasons, joined the Evessa this week, it was announced on Wednesday

“I look forward to being at my best play. More so, I look forward to the success of the team,” the Gonzaga University alum said in a statement. “I invite all the fans to be a part of the amazing journey and progress that the Evessa will have.”

When he’s at his best, Brown is a double-double threat every game.

Coaching staff addition

Less than a year after being axed by the Sunrockers Shibuya, Geoffrey Katsuhisa has resurfaced as a new hire for the revamped Kawasaki Brave Thunders coaching staff.

Katsuhisa led the Sunrockers for one full season and eight games (1-7 start) into the past season before Shibuya handed the reins to Tsutomu Isa.

In his new role, he’s an assistant coach, the Brave Thunders announced on Tuesday.

Kenji Sato took over as the Brave Thunders’ new bench boss this offseason. The longtime assistant earned a promotion after head coach Takuya Kita stepped down, then became general manager.

The 38-year-old Katsuhisa, a former Iwate Big Bulls head man, got his start in pro basketball serving as a translator and team manager on Bob Hill’s Tokyo Apache staff in 2010.

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