Lakestars vs. Tokyo Apache at Yokohama on March 6, 2010
The Shiga Lakestars pro basketball team in Japan’s bj league played well enough this 2009-2010 season to make the playoffs in the Western Conference for the first time in only their second year in the league. Coming in 4th place in the seven-team Western Conference with 29 wins and 23 losses, they qualified to advance to the playoff contest. The top four winning teams in the Western and Eastern Conferences battled it out in a two-game series of the Conference semi-finals held during May 15-16, 2010.
The 4th place Lakestars had to face the 1st-place team Osaka Evessa. Unfortunately, the Lakestars lost both games against the Evessa this weekend and could not advance to the Conference Finals to be played on May 22, 2010 in Ariake Colleseum in Tokyo. Their first game against Osaka was especially heartbreaking as they lost by 1 point (60-61). Their second game result was 68-78. They played at Kobe Port Island Hall. Wish I saw the game.
The Shiga Lakestars did all they could to qualify for the playoffs, something which just barely eluded them during their first season. We saw quite a few changes in the roster during this season, something we didn’t see last season when the players didn’t really change.
But this season, Mike Hall was released, Ray Schafer came back, popular Bobby Nash was released (miss him), and Mikey Marshall came in. It was clear that they wanted to get the best players available to increase their chances of making the playoffs which they did. But advancing beyond the first round has eluded them this time. But at least they made the playoffs and are showing improvement. Their sponsors and fans should be happy to see definite improvement. Making it to the Conference Finals (at least) is the team’s goal for next season, no doubt.
I also welcomed neighboring Kyoto Hannryz as the new kid on the block this season. Being a rookie team, they unsurprisingly struggled and finished last (7th place) in the Western Conference. Head coach David Benoit was fired in mid-season as a result. The team didn’t improve after Benoit was fired. The team’s management must learn to be patient before seeing concrete results. Give the coach at least two years.
Reminded me of the time when Rakuten quickly fired its pro baseball team general manager (an American) during its debut year when the team was not doing so well. These young team owners are too impatient, always wanting instant results. I call them the instant-ramen generation. They dislike spending time and trouble to make handmade noodles in broth cooked overnight with all kinds of goodies. They get high on artificial additives instead.
I’m glad that Lakestars Head Coach Robert Pierce was retained for the Lakestars’ second year even though they failed to make the playoffs during their debut season. They now have a good reason to retain him again, but his two-year contract has expired and we may see a new coach next season. Also, I really hope that Joho Masashi will be retained for next season. He’s such a crowd pleaser and a good player to boot. Fun to watch him play. Mikey Marshall played well too, and he should be retained as well.
On May 22 at Ariake Colleseum, Osaka and Okinawa Golden Kings will vie for the Western Conference title, and Hamamatsu and Niigata will go for the Eastern Conference title. The winners will play in the championship game, and the losers will play for the 3rd place on the next day. I plan to be at Ariake for the final game. Too bad Shiga won’t be there.
Anyway, thanks to the Lakestars for all your efforts this season. I enjoy watching games when I can (which unfortunately isn’t too often–too many things going on during weekends). I love the cheerleaders too, Magnee, and all the noise that the boosters (who received the bj-league’s No. 1 Booster Award) make both at home and away games.
I look forward to next season. See you again in Oct.
My Lakestars photo gallery: http://photoguide.jp/pix/index.php?cat=102
My Lakestars page: http://photoguide.jp/txt/Shiga_Lakestars