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Ryukyu Golden Kings hire Koto Toyama to coach

Date Posted: 2012-06-15

Even as stunned Okinawa basketball fans were asking ‘why?’, the Ryukyu Golden Kings filled the head coach vacancy within a few hours of releasing veteran coach Dai Oketani.

Koto Toyama, who’s been bench boss the past two seasons with the Miyazaki Shining Suns expansion team, where he worked a 22-30 record this past year after a 13-37 inaugural season, takes the reins of the Ryukyu Golden Kings, the reigning Basketball Japan League champions. The 29-year-old head coach began his professional coaching career in 2005 as assistant manager of the OSG Phoenix of the Japan Basketball League. A year later he moved up to manager.

In 2008 Toyama, a native of Asahikawa, Hokkaido, moved to the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, where he was assistant coach for the team that went 36-16 and finished first in the Eastern Conference his first year. The Phoenix went 41-11 his second year, taking both the Conference and League Championships.

Eager for a head coaching role once more, he stepped into the Miyazaki Shining Suns expansion camp, where he spent two years before being released a week ago. “I’m so excited and become tense to become the head coach of the Golden Kings,” says Toyama. “My goal with the team is to develop the team into one that is faster, more aggressive, hot and strong.”

One Eastern Conference coach things the Golden Kings made a “bold, inspired choice.” He called Toyama a guy with “the potential to be an excellent coach.” Others aren’t so sure, asking the hypothetical question “why break up the chemistry of a proven winner?”, “How will Jeff Newton and the rest of a reigning championship squad respond to the change?”, and “will the team be aggressive this fall, or will Toyama and the Golden Kings go into a rebuilding mode next season?”.

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