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Earthquake victim uses basketball skills to encourage Sendai residents

Date Posted: 2011-04-07

A professional basketball player who found himself in the midst of the devastation in Sendai during the March 11th Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami is making the best of a bad situation as he joined the Ryukyu Golden Kings two weeks ago.

Point guard Takehiko Shimura, who normally plays for the Sendai 89ers in the Basketball Japan League, has been adopted by the Golden Kings as part of a “player relief system” in place for the remainder of this season. The Sendai 89ers, Tokyo Apache and Saitama Broncos cancelled the remainder of their seasons following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake, so other teams in the league stepped in to absorb the suddenly jobless players. Players from the three out-of-business-for-the-season squads are being offered positions for the remainder of the season that runs through next month.

“I really appreciate the Golden Kings,” says Shimura, that they adopted me. I thought I could stay at Sendai because I’m from Sendai and I’m one of the victims, but I am thinking now I can use my play to cheer up the victims.” With the Sendai squad, the 27-year-old, 160cm tall player wore the number 4 on his uniform; now he’s wearing a Golden Kings uniform number 89 in recognition of his place on the Sendai 89ers. “I’m wearing another team’s uniform,” Shimura adds, “but I want to give the message and spirit to my hometown with my play.”

A Miyaki Prefecture native, Shimura will carry his aggressive court style to the Golden Kings. He was instrumental in last weekend’s dual victories against the Osaka Evessa, and praises the local community for its support. “I owe the Kings and all Okinawan people”, he says, adding he hopes everything will go well so he can play again in Sendai next season. In the meantime, he’s been invited to stay here, and the Station Hotel in Okinawa has provided accommodations for Shimura.

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