1. It's great for the bj-league whenever Osaka and Ryukyu square off, as they will today in the first truly meaningful rivalry series of the season.
Between them, Evessa star Lynn Washington and Golden Kings franchise player Jeff Newton, or both, have appeared in all six bj-league title games, three as teammates of Osaka when the powerhouse won titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
When Newton left Osaka and headed for the Ryukyu islands, he helped transformed the second-year team into a title contender in 2008, and a natural rivalry formed between the two teams. It's been terrific to follow.
Players on both teams have kept this rivalry interesting, fresh and highly competitive since then, too. Now, with five-time All-Star Cohey Aoki on Washington's side and Narito Namizato on Newton's, new pieces have been added to both team's championship aspirations.
2. Michael Katsuhisa and Geoffrey Katsuhisa will be on the sidelines as assistant coaches for the first time today on opposite teams, as Michael's Yokohama B-Corsairs and Geoffrey's Chiba Jets -- two expansion teams -- square off. Both guys know their Xs and Os and provide fast, thorough, accurate translations for head coaches Reggie Geary and Eric Gardow, respectively.
In the future, their sibling rivalry could grow into something bigger if both young men become bench bosses in this league. Stay tuned.
3. Iwate Big Bulls coach Vlasios Vlaikidis leads his team into action this weekend against the Akita Northern Happinets. The games will be only the third and fourth in Iwate team history, and coming off a bye week Vlaikidis noted “we need games.”
He said earlier this week that after eight games he’d start to be able to make measured analysis of his players and the team as a whole.
Yes, it takes time to know if a brand new team is progressing along the path its leader has mapped out.