October 09, 12 | Takako Chiba
It's finally the start of basketball season! This year the JLB 2012-2013 season had its first game on October 5th. Coming up on October 13th is Levanga Hokkaido’s season home game opener, and you don't want to miss it! Read on for details.
The appeal of basketball is easy to understand. Fast paced action, members of the team switching between offense and defense at a moments notice, and the high level of technique required to play the game. Not to mention the feeling in the stadium when someone goes up for a slam dunk! Three pointers are another great moment, from the moment the ball leaves the players hands the tension in the air is thick enough to cut with a knife, every fan holding their breath until...swish! That feeling of elation is enough to make any first time visitor a basketball fan.
Hokkaido's own pro-basketball team the "Levanga Hokkaido" had a historic seven game winning streak last season but they missed making it into the playoffs by just one game. This season they're going to give it another go and, to further that end, several new players have joined the team. The team's new head coach (HC) is Scott Berry, Takehiko Orimo will be active both on the court and in the board room, Ryota Sakurai previously a member of Japan's national basketball team, the team captain Tomokazu Abe, and Hokkaido native Daisuke Noguchi.
▲ From the annual children's basketball clinic in Wakkanai this past August.
(Photograph courtesy of レバンガ北海道(C)LEVANGA HOKKAIDO)
"Levanga Hokkaido" is a professional team without any sponsoring companies. Management is handled entirely by the Hokkaido Synthesis Sports Club. The chairman of the team is player Takehiko Orimo, the oldest player in the JBL. Active both on and off the court, he truly acts as a leader in the basketball world. Inside Hokkaido it is his job to appear on television and in newspapers, promoting the team and the JBL, but now that the season has started his focus has shifted to the upcoming games and practices.
"This season Sakurai was back and forth between our practice camp and the national team and Abe suffered an injury, so we weren't able to play practice games at full power. However, I think through drills and exercises we were all able to get a handle on the HC's goals for this year. As for myself, it may take me a little while to get back into the flow of the game. But that's the only worry I have. I think as the season progresses the atmosphere on the court will improve and the team will really click." says Orimo.
▲ #9 - Takehiko Orimo. Born in Saitama in 1970 he moved to Hokkaido in 2007. His specialty is his beautiful three-point shot.
"I'm not a fan of losing, to any other team or player, and so I've trained hard this year. I'm also aware that the fans are expecting me to perform well on the court, and I want to rise to meet that expectation. Last year when we were on our seven game winning streak, the feeling of pressure at each game was great experience for our younger players. So this year we plan on using that experience, along with the support from our fans, to make it to the playoffs."
Hokkaido born player Daisuke Noguchi, from Nanae Town, is well aware of the support from Hokkaido fans. Both those living in Hokkaido and those following from around the world.
He says, "The size of our team (heights of players) took a bit of a hit this year, so because I'm a taller member I know that when I play offense or defense I need to get in there for the rebounds. And, since basketball is a sport with higher scores than most, I'm shooting for at least 10 points a game."
▲ #1 - Daisuke Noguchi. Born in 1983 in Nanae Town, Hokkaido. Standing at 196cm, he dunks with graceful style.
"The three-point shots really get the crowd going, but for younger fans nothing beats a slam dunk. So I'll be making it my goal to get at least one in per game!"
So look forward to an exciting season from Noguchi this year!
If you go to a game, you may find that Noguchi doesn't often look up at his fans very often. He's actually surprisingly shy. "I've gotten used to my parents coming and watching my games, but if I look up and see close friends or people I know I start to get really nervous. But I do love and appreciate all the support we get! So please come support our games!"
▲ A photo during practice. The HC's voice echoed around the court giving an intense energy to the drills.
On October 13th and 14th Levanga Hokkaido will face off against the Panasonic Trians in their first home game of the season at Kitahiroshima gymnasium. After that you can catch them in Sapporo on November 3rd and 4th, in Date City on November 10th and 11th, and in Obihiro on November 23rd and 24th.
So whether you live in Hokkaido or are reading from abroad, be sure to support Hokkaido's pro-basketball team this season! It goes without saying that Hokkaido Likers is giving them our full support, and we'd like our readers to as well! So follow the facebook link below and leave them a comment to let them know we're watching!
●Levanga Hokkaido on facebook
●Hokkaido Synthesis Sports Club
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Takako Chiba)
(Photographs were provided by the sponsor and by Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Itsuki.)