Yuki Kawamura and Josh Hawkinson led Japan to the Olympic finals

Three Korean players are active in Japan’s B.League of neighboring countries, including Lee Dae-sung (Mikawa), Yang Jae-min (Sendai), and Jang Min-guk (Nagasaki). If the scope is expanded to include B3, which is the third division, there are also Park Se-jin (Kanazawa) and Jang Moon-ho (Kagawa). Japan has displayed stellar performance at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, and interest in Japanese basketball is on the rise. Then, what kind of players are playing in the B.League? Jumpball organized a segment to introduce each national and foreign player playing in the B.League every month. The first protagonists are Yuki Kawamura (22, 172 cm) and Josh Hawkinson (28, 208 cm), who drew attention for their stellar performances at the World Cup.

Originally from Daiichi Fukuoka, Kawamura was a promising player whose potential was recognized from an early age. He consistently joined the national team by age, participating in the 2017 FIBA U16 Asian Championships and the 2018 FIBA U18 Asian Championships. However, Japan did not receive much attention at the time, as it did not show much performance. Later, Kawamura, who went to Tokai University, began to experience professionalism through the B. League’s specially designated player system.라바카지노주소

A special designated player system is to sign a kind of trainee contract with a high school or university player that each team is interested in. The player can be brought in after the end of the high or college leagues, and usually has a three-month short-term contract from mid-season to the end of the season. The player is not paid a salary, but can also participate in team training and play in league games. When the contract is over, he or she will go back to his or her school.

Kawamura wore the uniform of San En Neophinics in the 2019-2020 season when he was a freshman, and his current team Yokohama B-Corsair when he was in the second and fourth grades. In particular, in the 2021-2022 season when he was a senior, he played in 32 regular league games, averaging 23 minutes and 36 seconds, recording 10.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. It was incredibly surprising that the performance was left by a college student who had not even made his professional debut.

Kawamura, who officially signed a contract with Yokohama ahead of the 2022-2023 season, began to display his skills to the fullest. He is only 172 centimeters tall, but his strength lies in breaking through fast speed and accurate out-of-town shooting. He boasts explosive scoring ability that can be uncontrollable once it explodes. He also has a wide field of view, enabling him to play well to keep teammates alive.

Kawamura instantly became the starting point guard of his team, and displayed robust performance with 19.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 8.5 assists for an average of 28 minutes and 15 seconds in 52 regular league games during his debut season. He ranks first in scoring on average among his country’s players, and ranks first in assists overall in the league. Yokohama led by Kawamura ranked second in the Central Division with 33 wins and 27 losses.

Commentator Son Dae-beom, who was our editor and broadcast of the World Cup, commented on Kawamura, saying, “I never knew it because a highlight video was uploaded on Twitter when I was a rookie. He was a rookie and played like a player in his third season. He is confident and seasoned. Other Japanese players like to shoot, but Kawamura was especially good at shooting. He had his own rhythm and was full of confidence, which stood out.”

After the end of the season, Kawamura was named MVP of Japan’s B. League Awards 2022-2023. The team scored 496 points during voting by coaches, players, and reporters, easily beating foreign player Perrin Burford (327 points) and Chiba Jets starting guard Yuki Togashi (259 points). In addition, he won five awards including Rookie of the Year, MIP, Best 5, and Assistance. He showed his best performance since his debut season and instantly became the best guard in the league. What was more surprising was that he was born in 2001 at the age of 22.

Kawamura was named in the final entry for the World Cup, which was co-hosted in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan in August. Japan was expected to lose all three games, joining Germany, Australia and Finland in the Death Group. The team was completely defeated by Germany 63-81 in the first group qualifying match, but a big reversal occurred in the second match against Finland. Japan, which had been dragging 63-73 until the third quarter, showed concentration in the fourth quarter and won a thrilling 98-88 victory.

Kawamura was at the center of the drive. He played 25 minutes and 11 seconds, scoring 25 points and nine assists including four three-point shots. Notably, he scored all four of his three-point shots in the fourth quarter alone, displaying a one-man show by scoring 17 points. It was phenomenal to see him making a deep three in front of a 213-centimeter NBA leaguer named Lowry Makanen (Utah).

Japan lost 89-109 to Australia in the third group qualifying match, falling behind to the preliminary round. Japan was more powerful than expected in the preliminary round. It beat Venezuela and Cabo Verde one after another and finished the tournament 19th in the final ranking. As a result, it became the No. 1 Asian country and secured a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics. Kawamura, who led his team as the starting point guard, recorded 13.6 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 7.6 assists for an average of 23.8 minutes in five games.

“It was like watching a youth cartoon. Is this real?” commentator Son Dae-beom said. “I wish Korean basketball players would watch the game again even now. Kawamura’s performance was amazing. The scene where a tall player climbs up to shoot in front of him is the moment that all Asian players have dreamed of. He is a Japanese player but feels satisfied on behalf of him. I think Kawamura has shown the way for Asian players to survive on the international stage.”

Kawamura, who has further grown through the World Cup, has displayed outstanding performances in this season as well. As of Dec. 19, he has 24.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists, while playing 28 minutes and 49 seconds on average in 21 regular league games. He is ranked first in both average score and assist in the league. Although his assist figure has declined slightly compared to last season, he is showing off his robust scoring ability.

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