Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Shibuya's Robert Sacre announces retirement

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Robert Sacre, one of the top all-around centers in B. League history, has retired.

The Sunrockers Shibuya made the announcement on Wednesday, which sparked a shock wave of surprise around the league.

Sacre, who turned 30 on June 6, joined Shibuya in 2016 after four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Last season, the 213-cm Sacre had his finest campaign in the B. League, finishing among the league’s top 10 in three key statistical categories: scoring (19.4 points per game, 10th overall), rebounding (9.2, ninth) and blocks (0.9, ninth)

“Dear Sunrockers fans, I would like to tell you today that I’ve decided to retire,” Sacre said in a team-issued statement. “I am really grateful for the wonderful opportunities you have given (me).

“I would like to cherish the time spent with my children and my family from now on.”

He added that he’ll “always be a member of the Sunrockers,” adding that “irreplaceable memories with you will never disappear.”

Masakazu Uranagase, Shibuya’s representative director, said he was surprised by Sacre’s decision, but said “he made a careful decision and that everybody understood.”

“We are very sorry for disappointing the fans who were looking forward to seeing Sacre’s spectacular play during the 2019-20 season,” Uranagase added.

“We, the Sunrockers Shibuya, were lucky to have a great player, Robert Sacre, at the beginning of the (B. League era) and to fight together as a member of it. I will never forget the ‘hot feelings and attitudes’ shown by Sacre when he comes to the game, and will continue to hold it as a valuable asset of the team, and will work together for the new season.”

The Lakers selected the Gonzaga University alum with the No. 60 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He wound up playing 189 games (35 starts) for the Lakers. He averaged 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in his NBA career, including a high of 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in the 2013-14 campaign.

A fan favorite, the jovial big man scored 44 and 46 points in back-to-back games against the Kyoto Hannaryz on March 23 and 24. In the latter game, he had 22 first-quarter points.

Sacre joined the Sunrockers near the midway point of the 2016-17 season. He averaged 15.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 32 games. The next season, he contributed 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists while representing Shibuya in the All-Star Game in Kumamoto. He also appeared in the 2019 All-Star Game in Toyama.

During an exclusive interview with The Japan Times during the 2018 All-Star weekend, Sacre spoke about the responsibility athletes have to make positive contributions to society.

Sacre joined other All-Stars at clinics and off-the-court events in Kumamoto, which was heavily damaged by two April 2016 earthquakes.

“I’m very blessed to be in the situation that I’m in and anything can happen to anybody, so you just have to be fortunate just to be able to smile each and every day, and if you can make someone else smile, that’s the most important thing,” Sacre told The Japan Times.

“It was great to be a part of something like that where you can make kids smile. . . . I am very fortunate to just have fun with the kids and lift their spirits up.”

He added: “The thing that I love about Japan is that they all work together for one big cause. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen that anywhere else, where they all work to benefit each other as a group. I just give them a lot of props.”