SeaHorses Mikawa guard/forward Kosuke Kanamaru captured his first B. League Most Valuable Player accolade, the circuit announced during the final day of its two-day award show on Friday.
The 32-year-old received the most votes among the five players that made the all-league team, for which players, head coaches and reporters cast their ballots.
Kanamaru averaged 16.8 points and 1.2 assists per contest across 53 games this season — 52 of them starts — for the SeaHorses, who finished third in the Western Conference with a 34-21 record.
The Fukuoka Prefecture native, who has often been called “an insane shooter” by other players and fans, was second both in 3-point percentage at 46.6 and free throw percentage at 90.7 in the top-tier B1.
“I’ve thought that I wanted to get one one day,” said Kanamaru, who was the top Japanese-born scorer, of winning the MVP. “But now I’ve got one in this fifth season (since the league began) and I’m extremely happy.”
Kanamaru, who is a candidate for the Japanese men’s national team for the Tokyo Olympics, made the all-league team for the fifth consecutive year. He joined former MVPs Nick Fazekas, of the Kawasaki Brave Thunders, and Yuki Togashi, of the 2020-21 league champion Chiba Jets Funabashi, on the all-league squad.
Kawasaki guard Yuma Fujii and Toyama Grouses forward Julian Mavunga were the other two members of the team, with the latter making the list for the first time.
Mavunga, a Miami University alum, led B1 in assists per game with 7.4 and tied for third in scoring with 20.7 points per game.
Fujii, who earned honors in three different categories last year – making the all-league team while also being named best defender and best sixth man – took home another best defender award for his trophy shelf.
When asked which award gives him the greatest honor, the 29-year-old was not able to pick one, but he noted he takes great pride in his defensive game.
“As far as my defense, because we had more import players at the perimeter this year and I had to guard them more often than before, I paid more attention to my defense,” Fujii said. “Plus, I had to guard ace scorers like Kanamaru and Togashi, so I was focusing on my defense in particular. It was a tough yet fun season.”
During the award show, many with ties to Kanamaru sent him congratulatory video messages for being named MVP.
Kanamaru referred to Kiyohiko Tsukamoto, a former head coach of the Meiji University men’s basketball team, as someone who gave him the chance to be who he is today.
Kamanaru was more of an inside player through his time at Fukuoka University Ohori High School, but after discovering the player’s shooting skills, Tsukamoto converted him to an outside player.
“One of the biggest turning points of my basketball career was, coach Tsukamoto insisted he was going to develop me into a shooting guard,” said Kanamaru, who nailed 11 shots from beyond the arc in a March 2020 contest, tying a league record for 3-pointers in a game. “And if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be the player who I am now. So I think I grew so much during the four years at university.”
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