Yuki Togashi, Takeuchi twins named to Japan’s 12-man squad for Asian Games

Quick-footed guard Yuki Togashi and the Takeuchi twins headline Japan’s 12-man basketball squad for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, the Japan Basketball Association announced on Tuesday.

While the team, dubbed the Hayabusa Japan, has some veterans like the Takeuchi brothers and guard Takumi Ishizaki, it also selected some young future stars like Naoto Tsuji (Toshiba Brave Thunders), Makoto Hiejima (Aisin SeaHorses), Daiki Tanaka (Toyota Alvark) and Tenketsu Harimoto (Toyota) with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in sight.

Coach Kenji Hasegawa’s team also picked up some top shooters in Japan to boost its scoring options. Kosuke Kanamaru (Aisin), Tsuji, Takatoshi Furukawa (Link Tochigi Brex) and Ryumo Ono (Chiba Jets) ranked in the top 15 in the 3-point percentage in the 2013-14 NBL campaign. Kanamaru and Tsuji were Nos. 1 and 2 in that department.

Inside will be taken care of by Kosuke Takeuchi (Hiroshima Dragonflies) and Joji Takeuchi (Hitachi Sunrockers) and Atsuya Ota, a Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix center. These three are the only men that stand above 2 meters. The team’s average height is 193.6 cm.

Yet it is Togashi, 21, who will probably receive the brightest spotlight on the squad in South Korea. The 167-cm, who played his high school ball at Montrose Christian in Maryland, participated in the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League last month and drew some attention with his nimble moves.

Togashi, who helped lead the Akita Northern Happinets to the bj-league championship game in May, represented Team Japan in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan earlier this month as well. Japan went 1-8 in that tournament, with a squad that included six players from the current national team lineup (Togashi, Furukawa, Tanaka, Hiejima, Harimoto and Ono) and other young players.

Ota, Ishizaki and Togashi have played in the bj-league, yet the latter two, who had previously been with the Shimane Susanoo Magic and Akita, respectively, are free agents as of this announcement.

The 17th edition of the Asiad will be held between Sept. 19 and Oct. 4. Japan, which finished fourth four years ago in Guangzhou, China, is seeded and its first game will be against Qatar in the second round of the 16-team event.

The last time Japan’s men earned an Asian Games medal was back in 1994 in Hiroshima, when it received the bronze medal.

via Togashi, Takeuchi twins named to Japan’s 12-man squad for Asian Games | The Japan Times.

Jeremy Lin Latest: Blogs Say New LA Lakers Player Could be All-Star, Most Improved Player in 2014-15

Several blogs are saying that Jeremy Lin, fresh off a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers from the Houston Rockets, could make some big steps this year and even become an All-Star or the Most Improved Player this upcoming season.

Lin, who often plays point guard, will likely be starting in L.A., mentored by the veteran Steve Nash.

Though Lin showed some serious promise in New York, he never lived up to expectations in Houston, prompting the team to jettison him and his large contract to the Lakers and getting nothing in return.

Now Lin has a shot to become even more popular, reported Lakes How Life.

 

The blog quoted Judy Seto, the Lakers physical therapist, talking about how popular basketball is in China: “Basketball has a strong heritage in China. In some of the places in China people say ‘we have waited a lifetime for them (Lakers) to come. To have the Lakers in my country in my city is a dream come true.’ Basketball has been popular in China for a long time.”

“It is that immense popularity that may translate itself into All-Star votes for Jeremy Lin.  China has a huge voice in the makeup of the NBA All-Star team just by virtue of its residents: a billion strong. In 2011, an injured Yao Ming was voted in as a starter in the All-Star game even though his season was over. Thank you China. Kobe Bryant was voted in as an All-Star in 2014 even though he played six games. Credit China for their blind allegiance,” the blog said.

“Skating the narrow line of being an All-Star and causing chaos has always been Jeremy Lin’s burden. In 2013 he received 839,000 votes. It was 45,000 votes less than Chris Paul. Lin was relieved not to make a team he did not belong on.

“In 2014 Lin received 628,000 votes, fourth among Western Conference guards. But he had 150,000 more votes than James Harden, his own teammate who averaged 25 points a game. Lin had 311,000 more votes than Russell Westbrook. He had 370,000 more votes than Tony Parker.

“Wearing a Lakers uniform, Lin’s Chinese popularity has already skyrocketed. Asian-Americans who look at Jeremy Lin as a heroic ceiling breaker have been reenergized. For the first time in his career Jeremy Lin will play a Christmas Day game, will be seen by millions.  The access TimeWarner Cable has with the Lakers will open up opportunities for a new breed of Lin followers who don’t judge his value on stats but on what he has done to elevate Asian people in a sport where no Asian guard has ever excelled.”

Another Lakers blog, Hoops Habit, says that Lin may very well win the Most Improved Player in the 2014-15 season.

The blog says that Lin is indeed an All-Star caliber player but that the Rockets didn’t use him right–and the Lakers will.

“One of the reasons Lin was able to succeed during his time with the Knicks was that he was allowed to be himself–a playmaker who wasn’t restricted by the offense. I hear you, Laker haters–I disagree with the notion that Kobe Bryant is going to play ball stopper. Bryant isn’t the point guard and while he will certainly take the lion’s share of the shows in the halfcourt offense, he’ll also draw the lion’s share of defensive attention,” the blog said.

“The ideal situation is to let Lin do his thing while Kobe gets rest, with Jeremy going back into more of a facilitator role when Bryant comes back onto the court. The truth of the matter is, we don’t exactly know how Bryant is going to respond to his injuries. If he has to adjust his game because his explosion and lift is gone, he’ll defer more often than he has in the past.

“That’s a major win for Lin, who plays best with the ball in his hands, making plays for hsi team. As long as new head coach Byron Scott puts his faith into Lin, he’ll give the team the kind of production we all know he can. It would be a major boon for Lin if Julius Randle turns out to be a quality pick-and-pop big or at the very least, if Carlos Boozer can find the fountain of youth and start making jumpers.”

via Jeremy Lin Latest: Blogs Say New LA Lakers Player Could be All-Star, Most Improved Player in 2014-15.

NBA draft pick Jordan Clarkson proud of Filipino American roots

Second round NBA draft pick Jordan Clarkson gave a nod to his Filipino heritage in a recent interview, reports ABS CBN.

“I’m a part-Filipino and I’m looking to be the first or one of the Filipino-Americans to play in the NBA. I know the country is backing me up. I hope I will be able to visit them in the future,” the 22-year-old said to Slam Online.

 Clarkson was drafted by the Washington Wizards which sold the rights to Clarkson to the Los Angeles Lakers.

“We’re looking forward to getting him in Los Angeles as soon as possible,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “Hopefully, he’ll participate in summer league, which starts in Las Vegas in about two weeks.”

via AsAm News | ABS CBN: NBA draft pick Jordan Clarkson proud of Filipino American roots.

UC Riverside basketball player Chris Tang delayed in China

UC Riverside basketball players have returned to campus for summer school and workouts, but guard Chris Tang won’t arrive until next month, Coach Dennis Cutts said.

The highly touted guard out of Lianyungang, Jiangsu, China, was expected for the summer but technical problems caused a global backlog of visa applications, causing Tang to be delayed and miss the cutoff date for summer school. Alexander Larsson, a 6-9 player from Sodertalje, Sweden, was delayed for several days, but finally arrived. UCR’s third international player, Robert Boezeman, a 6-7 forward from the Netherlands, also is in summer school, Cutts said.

Tang, who is in China, is expected on campus when the team meets on Sept. 15.

Players are in summer school sessions, but only allowed two hours per week of on-court time. They’re also allowed to lift weights. Cutts said he doesn’t expect Tang’s absence to impact his development with his new team.

“There’s a little bit of transitioning for (the new players), but he’s been over here for three years,” Cutts said.

Tang played for three years in the United States, most recently at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. He also has international experience, playing for the Under-18 team of the Canarias Basketball Academy where he averaged 15.5 points and shot 44 percent from 3-point range.

via AREA COLLEGES: UCR basketball player delayed in China – Press Enterprise.

5-foot-7 Japanese PG Yuki Togashi to enter NBA D-League draft

Mavs double-down: Sign a forward and fall for 5-foot-7 Japanese PG Togashi « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog with Sekou Smith

The other half of this dreams-can-come-true Mavs summer is 5-foot-7 Japanese point guard Yuki Togashi. The 20-year-old’s combo of stature, speed, instincts and fearlessness instantly made him a fan favorite over the past week, although not quite to the level of another Mavs Summer League point guard sensation a few years ago, a guy named Jeremy Lin.

Of course Togashi’s size, quick-twitch style and terrific ability to run the pick-and-roll is more similar to yet another great Dallas Summer League find, the diminutive J.J. Barea. Now with Minnesota, the 5-foot-9 Barea developed into a steady, change-of-pace backup point guard for the Mavs and even started in the 2011 NBA Finals.

Togashi’s dream is to play in the NBA and said Friday that he will follow that dream and enter the D-League draft in the fall. His other option is to return to Japan’s pro league and take home a much bigger paycheck.

“I played professionally for a year-and-a-half in Japan. I think I did a good job in Japan,” said Togashi, who took the BJ-league by storm last season and led it in assists. “To improve my skills I think I have to go overseas and play in the D-League.”

The D-League draft has 10 rounds. The early rounds are dominated by players on the edge of being good enough to make an NBA roster. Togashi is projected as a late-round pick so it’s quite possible the Mavs’ D-League team, the Texas Legends, co-owned by Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, will be able to select him.

Togashi idolized Allen Iverson as a kid and says he now watches a lot of Chris Paul. Interestingly, Togashi came to the United States for high school and attended Montrose Christian in Maryland, where a number of NBA players went, including Kevin Durant. When no Division I scholarships came, Togashi took his talents back home and began his professional career.

His agent steered him to Charlie Parker, a longtime assistant coach with the Mavs, who now works for the Legends. Parker has been training Togashi in Dallas for the last six weeks. Parker called his friends with the Mavs and told them they should consider putting the point guard on their summer team.

Obviously a part of his instant popularity here was initially due to his against-all-odds size. When he takes the court, he looks like one of the smaller kids on a youth team at the YMCA swimming in his oversized uniform. Then he gets the ball in his hands and the oohs and ahhs suggest he’s much more than a sideshow attraction.

“It is tough,” Togashi said of his height and 143-pound frame. “But I use my speed to be able to make plays.”

Togashi will return to Japan on Saturday morning and join the national team for practices in preparation for a tournament in Taiwan. If all works out, U.S. basketball fans will get their next look at the little man in the D-League.

via Mavs double-down: Sign a forward and fall for 5-foot-7 Japanese PG Togashi « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog with Sekou Smith.