Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Ryukyu set to defend The Terrific 12 title

by Ed Odeven

Japan’s 12-man FIBA World Cup squad, which includes 10 players who are employed by B. League teams, will measure its overall skills during the upcoming global tournament in China.

Similarly, four B. League squads will be put to the test in The Terrific 12, a tournament showcasing club teams from East Asia.

This year’s tourney tips off on Sept. 17 at Tap Seac Multi-Sports Pavilion in Macao, with the defending champion Ryukyu Golden Kings, Chiba Jets Funabashi, Niigata Albirex BB and Utsunomiya Brex among the dozen teams on the docket.

Other tournament teams include: a trio from the Chinese Basketball Association (Shenzhen Aviators, Liaoning Flying Leopards and Zhejiang Guangsha Lions), three from the Philippine Basketball Association (San Miguel Beermen, Blackwater Elite and TNT Katropa) and two from the Korean Basketball League (Seoul SK Knights, KCC Egis).

This year’s champion will be crowned on Sept. 22, exactly a week after the FIBA World Cup final will be contested in Beijing.

Last September, Ryukyu guard Ryuichi Kishimoto earned tournament MVP honors with a banner performance in the inaugural finale. He canned six 3-pointers and scored 21 points in an 85-76 title-game victory over the CBA’s Guangzhou Long Lions.

The Nagoya Diamond Dolphins placed third overall in the 2018 tourney.

As the Golden Kings prepare to launch their title defense in a few weeks, new captain Naoki Tashiro embraces the challenge of having increased responsibilities while in the public spotlight. The 188-cm small forward is entering his fourth season with the club.

“First of all, I’m really grateful to the team and the club staff for giving me the opportunity to serve as a captain,” Tashiro said in a statement issued on Aug. 19. “I see this as an opportunity to grow as a player, and I think that if I can return my growth to the team, I can lead this year’s team in a better direction.

“It’s also a big challenge for me as a team captain. Step into a field that you’ve never done before.”

The East Asia Super League is organizing the tournament. A total of 16 games are scheduled for the group stage, semifinals and finals, and each team is permitted to play two import players.

Washburn joins Kagoshima

Power forward Chris Washburn Jr., whose father was the No. 3 pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, recently signed a contract to play for the third-division Kagoshima Rebnise for the upcoming season.

Last season, Washburn suited up for Iskra Svit in the Slovenia League. In 40 games, he contributed 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds.

The 203-cm forward began his collegiate at UTEP before transferring to TCU in 2013. After sitting out a year per the NCAA’s Division I transfer rule, Washburn appeared in 90 games (50 starts) from 2014 to 2017. He averaged 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds for TCU.

The elder Washburn, a talented center, competed for North Carolina State from 1984 to 1986, beginning his college career the year after coach Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack captured the NCAA Tournament title. His NBA career was derailed by drug use — he only appeared in 72 games for the Warriors and Atlanta Hawks — and was banned for life in 1989 after failing his third drug test. Washburn later played in several overseas hoop circuits and the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association.

“From the basketball perspective, I hope I can be what he was,” Washburn told the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 2017. “It’s the off-the-court stuff. I don’t want to take that (path).”

Washburn will don jersey No. 1 for Rebnise coach Kazuo Kasumoto’s club.

World Cup preparations

Shimane Susanoo Magic newcomer Ike Diogu sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds to play in Nigeria’s 89-86 win over Montenegro in a FIBA World Cup tune-up game on Sunday.

For the D’Tigers, the victory capped a Peak Invitational International tournament title in Yangzhou, China. A day earlier, Nigeria defeated Poland 87-84 in overtime after rallying from 22 points down to send the game into OT.

Diogu, a former NBA forward, is the Nigeria national team captain. He finished with 13 points in the comeback victory against Montenegro.

Feedback

Contact the reporter: edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp

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