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Ryukyu Golden Kings go global to fill positions

Date Posted: 2011-09-16

Okinawa's Ryukyu Golden Kings have turned to Europe and Africa to recruit top notch talent to round out the squad of the Basketball Japan Leagueユs championship runners-up.

The Golden Kings, who fell to the Hamamatsu-Higashi Mikawa Phoenix 82-68 in this spring's league championship game after winning the Western Conference title, have signed Reggie Okosa from Nigeria and Dzaflo Larki of the United Kingdom for the coming season, while also adding a pair of Okinawan players, Morihisa Yamauchi and Narito Namisato.

Larkai comes to Okinawa from the Hamamatsu Higashi Mikawa Phoenix, the team that dashed Okinawa's hopes of a second league championship. Prior to the BJ League, he played in the Spain League in 2008-2009, and the U.K. League in 2009-2010. 'I've been thinking that the Golden Kings we played last year are a great team, with a high level and good communication between coaches and players,' he says, adding 'I'm excited and looking forward to playing in Okinawa.'

Okosa began his professional basketball career in the German Bundesliga in 2004-2005, moving on to play in China for a year, then a couple with the Korean Basketball League where he won a championship in 2008.

He came to Japan and the Japan Basketball League in 2009-2010, then ventured to Liga A of Argentina last season. The long-armed 208cm tall player has in past years been chosen a Most Valuable Player. 'I've been hearing about the Golden Kings,' he says, 'and I wanted to play here when I came back to Asia.'

Okinawa's team captain, Tsubasa Yonamine, says 'our goal is to recapture the BJ League championship,' but says the 'team should work without so many foreign players this year,' adding メwe relied on foreign players last year, so when we were on the court with Japanese, we were outscored by the opposition.' Having said that, though, Yonamine praised the returning Americans, Anthony McHenry, Jeff Newton and David Palmer.

The Golden Kings are ready for some pre-season action next weekend, when the champion Hamamatsu Higashi-Mikawa Phoenix come to town for a pair of games September 24th at 7 p.m. and the 25th at 1 p.m. at the Okinawa City Gymnasium. After the exhibition games, which Okinawa hopes will be a warm-up for the coming seasonユs league championship, the Golden Kings open on the road October 15th and 16th against the Rizing Fukuoka.

The Basketball Japan League expands to 19 teams this season; it was supposed to be 20 teams with the four new squads, but the Tokyo Apache have bowed out for the year. The new teams are the Yokohama B-Corsairs, the Iwate Big Bulls, Shinshu Brave Warriors and the Chiba Jets.

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