Basketball / NBA

Alvark's Yudai Baba joins Mavericks squad for NBA Summer League

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

B. League Final MVP Yudai Baba is returning to the United States just a few weeks after attending a Dallas Mavericks minicamp.

The Alvark Tokyo shooting guard was invited to play for Dallas at the upcoming NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Mavericks assistant coach Mike Weinar is Dallas’ bench boss for the Vegas tournament. His assistants will be Mike Shedd, God Shammgod and Jenny Boucek.

The team announced its NBA Summer League roster over the weekend. It also includes forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, the younger brother of the Milwaukee Bucks’ NBA MVP Giannis, and guard Wael Arakji, a talented Lebanese player.

For Baba, it’s an opportunity to showcase his all-around skills and see what facets of his game he can improve the most.

“I would like to appeal to both the offense and the defense in the next camp and summer league by further strengthening my play,” Baba was quoted as saying by Sports Hochi.

Baba is the first active B. League player set to appear in an NBA Summer League game.

This year’s Las Vegas extravaganza is an 11-day tournament, with China and Croatia’s national teams competing with the NBA’s 30 squads. In preparation for the marquee event, the Mavericks were set to begin a four-day minicamp at team headquarters on Monday in Dallas.

In the preliminary round, the Mavs are set to face the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, the Houston Rockets on Saturday, the Sacramento Kings next Monday and Croatia on July 10.

The Summer League final is set for July 15.

The 24-year-old Baba averaged 10.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals in 59 games for the Alvark in 2018-19 as they won their second straight B. League title. The 198-cm Toyama native will wear No. 18 in Las Vegas.

Tochigi Brex standout Makoto Hiejima also attended Dallas’ minicamp from June 16 to 18.

This year’s NBA Summer League will also feature two other Japanese players: Washington Wizards rookie forward Rui Hachimura, the No. 9 overall pick from Gonzaga University, and Memphis Grizzlies forward Yuta Watanabe, who’s gearing up for his second season as a pro.

The Wizards meet the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday in their tourney opener.

The Grizzlies are one of four teams competing in the NBA Summer League in Salt Lake City before the main portion of the annual event tips off in Las Vegas.

The Utah capital was scheduled to host three days of games starting Monday.