Highly touted pitcher Tomohiro Anraku taken first in Japanese baseball amateur draft

TOKYO – High school pitching star Tomohiro Anraku was chosen first overall in Nippon Professional Baseball’s amateur draft on Thursday and was headed to the former team of New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yakult Swallows and Rakuten Eagles selected Anraku with the first and second picks respectively, and the Eagles won a lottery for the highly touted 17-year-old right-hander.

“One of my dreams was to be taken first in the draft,” Anraku said. “When Tanaka was with the team they won the championship so they are a proven winner, and I will do everything I can to help them win again.”

The 6-foot-2, 187-pound (1.88-meter, 85-kilogram) Anraku, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 97 mph (156 kph), has generated interest on both sides of the Pacific.

In 2013, Anraku threw 183 pitches in one game at the Koshien high school tournament after a 137-pitch complete game the previous day.

The Eagles won the Japan Series in 2013 but finished last this season after 24-game winner Tanaka signed with the Yankees.

- See more at: http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/sports/highly-touted-pitcher-tomohiro-anraku-taken-first-in-japanese-baseball-amateur-draft-1.1454767#sthash.NPwAAqwL.dpuf

via Highly touted pitcher Tomohiro Anraku taken first in Japanese baseball amateur draft – Sports – Prince George Citizen.

MLL 1st Round pick Karsen Leung to promote game in Asia

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jordan Wong is hoping that fellow Bellarmine University lacrosse alums Dillon Ward and Karsen Leung are as formidable of a coaching duo overseas as they were a playing duo for the Knights in the states.

Ward and Leung are set to serve as guest coaches for the Hong Kong Lacrosse High Performance Programme in a four-team tournament called the Singapore Spectacular in a trip that is expected to last from Oct. 29 through Nov. 9. They received the invitation from Wong, a past teammate of the pair with the Knights who is the Hong Kong Lacrosse Association Development Officer.

“As a former teammate of theirs, I know the value they can add to Hong Kong Lacrosse,” Wong said in a story posted on the website lacrosseplayground.com. “They are character guys with a love for the game and the generosity to give back to the sport.”

Ward is no stranger to international lacrosse. In July, the former Bellarmine All-American led Canada to the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship in Commerce City, Colorado, while becoming the first goalie ever to capture tournament Most Valuable Player honors. There were 38 different countries that participated in the World Lacrosse Championships, including Hong Kong.

“When Team Canada practiced with Team Hong Kong in Denver, I could see how excited and eager the players were to learn more about lacrosse,” Ward said in the lacrosseplayground.com piece. “I’m very excited to be able to go there, work with them and help continue to grow the game.”

Leung said in the story that “This will be a special trip for me as it will be my first time traveling to Asia. Being half Chinese-Canadian, this trip will allow me to get in touch with my heritage and broaden my view of the world.”

Ward and Leung were both chosen in the first round of the 2013 National Lacrosse League Draft. Ward was taken third overall by the Colorado Mammoth and was one of three finalists for the league’s Rookie of the Year award after ranking fourth in the NLL in saves (592), fifth in save percentage (.773) and seventh in goals-against average (11.58). Leung was drafted 10th overall by the Calgary Roughnecks and posted 11 goals and 18 assists in 18 regular season games as a rookie.

Ward and Leung starred at Bellarmine together, entered the professional ranks together and now they will coach together overseas.

“My aim is to give the Hong Kong lacrosse players inspiration to succeed and have similar lacrosse experiences to what I’ve had throughout my career,” Leung said in the lacrosseplayground.com article. “It will be very special to meet the Hong Kong players and share my knowledge of the game with them. My hope is that it will help them enhance their skill, understanding and love of the game. In the long run, hopefully this will improve the competitiveness of Hong Kong Lacrosse at the world stage.”

via Bellarmine University – BU lacrosse alums Ward, Leung to coach together on international trip.

Kansas City’s Norichika Aoki to Join List of Japanese Who Have Appeared in World Series

Kansas City Royals’ Norichika Aoki practices at Kauffman Stadium before the start of the World Series on Tuesday local time. 


Christopher Hanewinckel – USA Today Sports

Major League Baseball’s World Series will kick off Wednesday morning Japan time at the Kauffman Stadium in Missouri, with Norichika Aoki of the Kansas City Royals slated to become the 12th Japanese player to appear in the Fall Classic. Japan Real Time takes a look at past Japanese players who have reached baseball’s biggest stage.

Hideki Irabu (New York Yankees)

The first Japanese player to win a World Series championship ring was Hideki Irabu, who was with the New York Yankees in 1998 and 1999 but didn’t pitch during the series. Irabu joined the Montreal Expos in 2000 and spent his final year in MLB with the Texas Rangers in 2002.

He returned to Japan and continued his career with the Hanshin Tigers and independent league teams. Irabu died in 2011 in an apparent suicide.

Former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu speaks with catcher Joe Girardi, now the team manager, during a game at Yankee Stadium in September 1997.


Associated Press

Tsuyoshi Shinjo (San Francisco Giants)

The first Japanese player to appear in a World Series game was San Francisco Giants outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo. He had one hit in three at-bats as the designated hitter in Game 1 in 2002. The team lost the series to the Anaheim Angels in seven games. Shinjo returned to Japan in 2004 to play for the Nippon Ham Fighters, where he was a teammate of current Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish. Shinjo retired from baseball after the 2006 season and now lives in Indonesia where he studies airbrush painting, according to hiswebsite.

Former San Francisco Giants outfielders Barry Bonds and Tsuyoshi Shinjo celebrate after winning Game 5 of the World Series against Anaheim in 2002.


Associated Press

Hideki Matsui (New York Yankees)

New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui made his World Series debut in 2003, the year he joined the team from Japan. The Yankees lost the series to the Florida Marlins in six games. Matsui returned to the Fall Classic in 2009, and contributed to the team’s win over the Philadelphia Phillies as the designated hitter. He had six RBIs in the final game and was named most valuable player. Matsui went on to play for the Angels, the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays before retiring after the 2012 season.

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Hideki Matsui celebrate winning the World Series and the MVP award in 2009.


Associated Press

So Taguchi (St. Louis Cardinals)

In 2004, So Taguchi, then with the St. Louis Cardinals, made his first appearance in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. The Sox swept the series and became the world champions for the first time since 1918. The Cards and Taguchi returned to the World Series in 2006 and beat the Detroit Tigers in five games. Taguchi also became a world champion in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He is scheduled to appear as a TV commentator in Japan for Game 2 of this year’s World Series.

St. Louis Cardinals’ So Taguchi carries his son and celebrates winning the World Series in 2006.


Associated Press

Tadahito Iguchi (Chicago White Sox)

Tadahito Iguchi won the World Series in 2005 during his first year with the Chicago White Sox. He was also a member of the Philadelphia Phillies along with So Taguchi, when the team won the 2008 title. Iguchi returned to Japan following that season and joined the Chiba Lotte Marines and still plays for the team.

Chicago White Sox infielder Tadahito Iguchi joins the celebration after the team won the World Series in 2005.


Associated Press

Daisuke Matsuzaka & Hideki Okajima (Boston Red Sox)

The Boston Red Sox swept the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies, with pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima playing key roles. Following aces Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling, Matsuzaka started Game 3 and allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings to earn the win. It was the first World Series win by a Japanese pitcher. Matsuzaka played for the New York Mets this season, and went 3-3 with an ERA of 3.89. Okajima is now pitching for the Softbank Hawks, which will play the Japan Series this year beginning Saturday.

Boston Red Sox pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima hold the World Series trophy after the team won the 2007 World Series.


Associated Press

Kazuo Matsui (Colorado Rockies)

Kazuo Matsui played for the Rockies in 2007 although his team lost to the Red Sox. While Matsui ended his MLB career without a World Series ring, in 2013 he won the Japan Series as captain of the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles. New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was the ace of the team that year.

Colorado Rockies infielder Kazuo Matsui chats with Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka before Game 1 of the 2007 World Series at Fenway Park.


Associated Press

Akinori Iwamura (Tampa Bay Rays)

Akinori Iwamura played as an infielder for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 when the team made its first and only appearance thus far in the World Series. They lost to the Phillies in five games. Iwamura went on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Oakland A’s, but returned to Japan in 2011. He played for the Yakult Swallows this year but was released from the team on Oct. 1.

Tampa Bay Rays’ Akinori Iwamura shares a laugh with So Taguchi of the Philadelphia Phillies before Game 5 of the World Series in 2008.


Associated Press

Koji Uehara & Junichi Tazawa (Boston Red Sox)

Following his MVP performance during the American League Championship Series in 2013, closer Koji Uehara remained dominant against the Cardinals at the World Series. He pitched 4.2 innings, allowing two hits and earning two saves. Junichi Tazawa also pitched in key situations out of the bullpen during the series.  It was the third World Series win for the Red Sox in a decade.

Boston Red Sox pitchers Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa hold the champion trophy at Fenway Park after Game 6 of the World Series in 2013.


Associated Press

via Kansas City’s Aoki to Join List of Japanese Who Have Appeared in World Series – Japan Real Time – WSJ.

Filipino Kobe Paras will play for UCLA

There's a new Kobe in town at Cathedral High - LA Times

Don’t be surprised if Filipino flags are being waved en masse this winter in the gym at

Los Angeles Cathedral High. There are more than 375,000 Filipinos living in Los

Angeles County, and a 17-year-old basketball prodigy with more than 50,000 Twitter

and 67,000 Instagram followers is set to make his high school debut in the United States.

Kobe Paras is no ordinary foreign exchange student. As a 15-year-old in 2013, Paras participated

in a Nike exhibition in Manila, and with LeBron James on the court, Paras dunked. That moment

was captured on video, and in the era of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, Paras’ life changed.

“They’re calling me the kid who dunked on LeBron,” Paras recalled.

There's a new Kobe in town at Cathedral High - LA Times

Last week, UCLA Coach Steve Alford showed up at Cathedral to watch Paras practice and ended

up making a scholarship offer. On Saturday, Paras committed to the Bruins. In 24 hours, he

picked up 1,000 more Twitter followers.

“Pinoys in L.A. will go nuts to see Kobe as a Bruin,” said TJ Manotoc, a sports broadcaster for

ABS-CBN in the Philippines.

Junior from Philippines is committed to UCLAIn the Philippines, Paras and his family were celebrities long before his LeBron moment. His

father, Benjie, in 1989 became the only player in the history of the country’s professional

basketball league to be the rookie of the year and the MVP in the same season. He became an

actor and businessman. Paras’ brother, Andre, also plays basketball and went into acting.

Then it was decided Paras, who was named after the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, should come to Los

Angeles to prepare for college and see if he was good enough to earn a college basketball

scholarship. He’s living with a host family.

“I always remind him to continue working hard and to focus on his studies,” his father told

Philstar.com on Friday.

With his youthful looks and willingness to be playful and entertain fans through postings on

Instagram and Twitter, Paras has a gained a large following among teenage girls in the


Whenever Paras does just about anything noteworthy, Filipino media report it.

“I liken him in his country to what LeBron was here” as a high school star, Cathedral Coach

William Middlebrooks said.

Paras is 6 feet 6. He was a center in his country, but he was playing guard last summer for a travel

team in Southern California and picked up scholarship offers from Arizona State, California,

Fresno State, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine even though he’s going into his junior year. Then

UCLA entered the picture.

“While all of this is new to me, I realize that I can only go to one college, so I felt it was not

necessary to continue the recruitment process with so many very good schools and coaches

already at the table,” Paras said in a statement released by Cathedral.

“Most know him for his dunking, but he can shoot the three, dribbles and passes,” Middlebrooks

said. “He’s highly skilled and is adapting to the style of play in America.”

Clearly, Paras’ leaping ability will make him a crowd favorite this season. He hasn’t measured his

vertical leap, but it’s so explosive that you can count on Cathedral statisticians to start keeping

track of dunks.

There’s little doubt the attention he received for his LeBron moment had a huge influence.

“He was my idol since I was a kid, and getting to do that with him is something that changed

something in me big time,” Paras said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

Of course, basketball is more than just dunking, and the focus on Paras’ dunks takes away from

his other strengths. He really is a terrific shooter and his work ethic is outstanding.

“I want to show everybody it’s not all about dunking or highlights,” he said. “It’s about what you

do on the court.”

There's a new Kobe in town at Cathedral High - LA Times

But asked if he likes to dunk, Paras smiles and says, “Yes, I do.”

Paras has earned a reputation at Cathedral for being a polite, well-mannered, humble student.

Seeing him walk around campus with other students provides no clue that in the Philippines he is

a media sensation.

“How good that is I don’t know because he’s still a kid, but that’s his life at this point,”

Middlebrooks said.

According to Manotoc, the combination of Filipinos’ love for basketball and Paras’ family

connections and success has led to much attention. A video of Paras winning a FIBA dunk contest

has more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.

“Basketball is a religion here,” Manotoc said. “The only time kids on the street don’t play ball is

when Manny Pacquiao has a fight.”

Rarely do homegrown Filipinos receive scholarships to NCAA schools, which means Paras is going

to be followed even more closely.

For now, Paras will try to show that he has skills beyond dunking. But when he soars through the

air and jams the ball through the net, the excitement he generates is likely to prompt more than

just Filipino fans to rise to their feet.

Los Angeles now has more than one basketball player named Kobe with star power.


via There’s a new Kobe in town at Cathedral High – LA Times.

Phan Thanh Hau cited top 40 Best Young Football Talent

The British Guardian newspaper has listed Phan Thanh Hau, a midfielder on the Vietnam U19 football squad, among the “40 of the Best Young Talents in World Football”.

Thanh Hau cited top 40 Best Young Football Talent

  • U19 Vietnam holds China to draw at AFC Champ
  • Rough start for U19 Team at Asian football championships
  • VTV to broadcast U19 Vietnam matches in Asia

“Phan Thanh Hau is the heartbeat of their (U19 football squad) midfield, always available and ready to spray passes short and long and to use a deft first touch to create space for a lovely left-foot to prise open opposition defences,” the Guardian reported.

“He currently plays for an academy in his homeland built by Arsenal JMG Academy and a Vietnamese company. His next move is either to the V-League or Europe.”

In the final round of U19 AFC 2014, Thanh Hau-number 19 played well and created many challenges for Japanese players. Vietnamese coach Guillaume Graechen said that Hau is one of most skilful and potential player of Vietnam U19 football squad.

“Vietnam is becoming a serious player in Asian youth football, with a recent 5-1 win over Australia further evidence of their progress. According to the Korean coach, preparing to defend their Under-19 title, Vietnam is one of the favourites.” the Guardian reported.

via Thanh Hau cited top 40 Best Young Football Talent | Vietnam Features.

Nam Phan signs with Bellator, meets Mike Richman in Bellator 131 main-card opener | MMAjunkie

UFC veteran Nam Phan (20-13 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has signed with Bellator MMA and will make his promotional debut against Mike Richman (17-5 MMA, 6-4 BMMA) in next month’s Bellator 131 main-card opener.

Bellator officials tonight announced the bantamweight bout. Terms of Phan’s deal weren’t disclosed.

Bellator 131 takes place Nov. 15 at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. The main card, including an announced headliner between veteran light heavyweights and UFC Hall of Famers Stephan Bonnar (15-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) and Tito Ortiz (17-11-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), as well as a lightweight title fight between interim champ Will Brooks (14-1 MMA, 6-1 BMMA) and former titleholder Michael Chandler (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA), airs on Spike TV following prelims on Spike.com.

Phan went 2-6 with the UFC but picked up a pair of “Fight of the Night” bonuses and was never finished despite facing some notable names, including Takeya Mizugaki, Dennis Siver and Jimy Hettes. Following his promotional release earlier this year, the 31-year-old Californian hit the regional scene in Japan and picked up a pair of stoppage victories.

via Nam Phan signs with Bellator, meets Mike Richman in Bellator 131 main-card opener | MMAjunkie.

Zhou Qi 2015 NBA Draft: Scouting Video & Report

Zhou Qi 2015 NBA Draft: Scouting Video & Report


Zhou Qi pronounced, Chjoe Chi, is an 18 year old Forward/Center prospect from the Henan, China. Zhou weighs in at 220 lbs and measures 7’2″ tall with a rumored 7’4-5″ wingspan. At this point, his biggest strengths are his length and mobility. On defense he is an excellent shot blocker helping off his man; can also block shots and contest shots on the ball. Zhou runs the floor very well and can catch on the move in transition for a quick finish or early action post up. Qi has a good feel for the game. He can facilitate from the high post finding cutters and also make swing passes or interior passes from the low post. In addition he shows good ESP with guards in pick and roll situations; moves well, can catch on the move and has a soft touch around the rim.

As noted, Zhou has a thin frame for his position at only 220 lbs. He may be more of power forward offensively, but on the defensive end he may wind up guarding centers when smaller/quicker stretch 4 types are in the lineup. Zhou is easily moved off his spot by smaller guards when setting UCLA screens and sometimes struggles to finish into contact in the paint. Along the same lines, he needs to work on his post game. Qi is graceful and can spin baseline or fake spin-pivot-drop step. However, he often has difficulty sealing his man and struggles when meeting a shot blocker at the rim. Also, needs to work on his footwork; prone to traveling violations.

Zhou is an intriguing prospect because he flashes upside potential in various areas of the game. He can put the ball on the floor from 15-18 feet for step back jumpers. From the mid post area he can spin baseline and finish on the other side of the basket. Not yet a great shooter, but has range out to 20 feet. In addition, Qi is a good offensive rebounder, shows a good understanding of geometry in that he moves his body to where he thinks the ball will be. Not to be overlooked, his pick and roll coverage is already better than some current  NBA players. Zhou is familiar with hard hedging strategies as well as soft, shadow schemes.

Unfortunately, its not known weather he will enter his name in the 2015 NBA Draft or 2016 Draft, for that matter. If he participates in the 2015 Nike Hoops Summit and has a good showing, then he will increase his chances of selection in the 2015 draft should he decide to enter.  It is still uncertain what position he can defend at an NBA level; though Center may be ideal given his height, length, and P&R defensive prowess.


=> Length - has great length. Blocks shots on the ball and off of weak side or help rotations. Uses length to contest jump shots on ball.

=> Mobility - agile and light on his feet. In transition, can catch passes on the move and finish, draws fouls. Runs back on defense in transition.

=> Feel for the Game - natural facilitator; high post. Makes swing passes from low post. Tracks loose balls. ESP with guards; slips screens & catches on move.


=> Focus - sometimes struggles with ball-you-man and misses rim protection assignments. Hi IQ player, but makes inexperience related mistakes.

=> Strength - gets knocked off balance by smaller players in the course of play; defense, screens, put backs. Needs to add weight & core strength.

=> Post Game - has potential but still raw. Likes to spin baseline, but no counter. Shuffles feet and gets called for travels. Lacks physical presence.


=> Scoring Threat - has a developing midrange game. Puts the ball on the floor for step back jumpers. Shoots out to 20 feet, Spot-ups. Post game potential.

=> Off. Rebounding - reads where the ball is going then moves his body to the spot, uses length. Brings the ball down to gather then lifts for a put-back.

=> Pick & Roll Defense - agile and quick enough to execute hedging strategies like show & recover. Also skilled at playing soft while protecting the rim.


=> Draft; Late 1st, Early 2nd

=> Feel for Game, Highly Skilled

=> Needs to Add Strength

=> D Upside; Mobility & Length

=> When Will He Come Over?