Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

B. League coaches and players support decision to postpone games

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

A state of uncertainty is the current reality for sports leagues, athletes, coaches and organizers spanning the globe.

The B. League, now in its fourth season, is dealing with that reality, too.

Masaaki Okawa, the B. League chairman, announced on Wednesday evening that the circuit will put its season on hold — for at least two weeks.

This decision follows the advice of government health experts who’ve said the next few weeks are critical in coordinated efforts to reduce the possibility of the coronavirus rapidly spreading, while also trying to contain it as much as possible throughout Japan.

As a result, the B. League announcement comes after decisions by the J. League and the Japan Rugby Top League to call off all matches for the next two weeks.

Which means a total of 99 B1 and B2 games from Friday until March 11 have been postponed.

In an interview with The Japan Times on Tuesday, one first-division coach insisted that the B. League made the right decision.

“This was an inevitable and necessary decision,” said the veteran bench boss, who requested anonymity. “At this moment of the corona outbreak, the priority is to keep everyone as safe as possible, and help the country to deal with it in the best possible way.

“Everything else, including sports competitions, are secondary. I approve and support these measures, as well as hope and pray for the most organized and efficient resistance to this dangerous disease.”

Kyoto Hannaryz veteran guard Keijuro Matsui, who played at Columbia University before turning pro in 2009 with the JBL’s Rera Kamuy Hokkaido, also supports the decision, expressing a view shared by many players on social media.

“It’s unfortunate,” Matsui tweeted on Wednesday after Okawa’s announcement. “But first of all, health first.”

Meanwhile, the 12 third-division clubs’ games have also been postponed (from Friday through March 12.

Luis Guil, head coach of the expansion Saga Ballooners, summed up his squad’s mindset at this difficult time — also during a period when the Ballooners (30-10) are enjoying a successful first campaign.

(We will) wait for everything to be solved and prepare well for when it resumes,” tweeted Guil on Wednesday with an emoji of a person’s hands clasped together for prayer.

For the top-flight’s 18 clubs, the two-time defending champion Alvark Tokyo, Utsunomiya Brex and Kawasaki Brave Thunders all have the best record (30-9) through games of Feb. 17. The league had a scheduled bye last week because of Japan’s 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifier against Taiwan in Taipei.

Your news needs your support

Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.

Coronavirus banner