I enjoyed watching Shiga LakeStars games even though they didn’t do so well during their debut 2008-09 season ending up in 5th place with a record of 19 wins and 33 losses. The bj-league emphasizes the entertainment aspects of the game, so that added a lot to the games. And Shiga did have a good number of LakeStars fans who turned out to cheer at games. The Shiga LakeStars, Shiga’s first pro sports team, is definitely a viable franchise. If you see one game, you very likely will want to see more games. The trick is to get more people to see a game for the first time.
During 2008-09, I went to see four LakeStars games including the debut game (which they lost). Links to photos:
LakeStars vs. Osaka Evessa (Debut game) in Otsu, 2008.10.11
LakeStars vs. Fukuoka Rizing in Otsu, 2009.1.11
LakeStars vs. Tokyo Apache in Tokyo, 2009.3.6
LakeStars vs. Toyama Grouses in Maibara, 2009.3.22
I for one was happy to see the LakeStars being formed. They invited the participation of the local people to decide on the team name. Whether it should be Shiga or Omi or whatever else. The vast majority favored “Shiga.” I proposed the name “Shiga Lakers.” I thought “Lakestars” was too similar to the Yokohama Baystars baseball team. But LakeStars is a good name. At first, I thought the league and games were too commercial with so many ads plastered all over the court floor and sidelines. But I guess they need the money and sponsorship.
I was also thrilled to find out that one of the team members was from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (Bobby Nash), my alma mater. I hope he comes back next season. Bobby Nash’s dad, Bob Nash, is coaching the UH men’s basketball team and he was one of the most famous UH basketball players during the early 1970s. We called them the Fabulous Five from Hawaii: Al Davis, Bob Nash, Dwight Holiday, John Penebacker and Jerome Freeman. More here:
As I said, one emphasis is on entertainment, and we get a lot of it with the cheerleaders and local performing artists whether they are singers or dancers. The games are great for these people to get public exposure while the spectators get good entertainment. The Shiga LakeStars cheerleaders even won a cheerleading award. At first, they all looked the same to me, with the same long, black hair and same uniforms. But a few games later, I started to recognize their faces and a few names too. Unfortunately, they will all be replaced for next season. Thanks girls for your cheering and entertainment. I know you worked very hard.
In the Western Conference, Okinawa took first place (41 wins, 11 losses) and Toyama Grouses was last in 6th place. Only the 1st to 4th place teams in the Western and Eastern Conferences can move on to the playoffs to decide the bj-league champion. For a long time, the LakeStars were trailing Fukuoka in 4th place. If they lost the last two games and Shiga won the last two games, the LakeStars would have made it to 4th place. Too bad it didn’t happen. Oh well, let’s see if they can do better next season. Thanks guys for doing your best. Win or lose, it was fun to watch. Otsukaresama to everyone involved!
Shiga LakeStars official website: http://www.lakestars.net/