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Okinawan leads East to victory in round hoops All Star Game

Date Posted: 2007-02-01

Takanori Goya had the time of his life Saturday at the Ginowan Municipal Gymnasium.

The Okinawa native led the BJ professional basketball league’s East Time to a 126-97 win over the West in the league’s first-even All Star Game. The two-year-old league chose Okinawa as the All Star Game setting to give locals an insight to professional basketball. The eight-team league was founded in 2005 with six teams located in Sendai, Nigata, Tokyo, Saitama, Osaka and Oita.

The BJ League added Takamatsu and Toyama this year. Okinawa joins the league as an expansion team next season, along with Fukuoka. A final two teams, bringing the league total to 12, will be decided next year.

Goya, whose Okinawa home is only minutes from the Ginowan All Star Game site, thrilled and charmed the hometown crowd of 3,223, making a memorable pair of dunks as he scored 19 points and picked up a handful of assists. Goya was a number one pick in last Spring’s BJ League draft, going to the Toyama Grouses. He called performing for Okinawa fans, family and friends “a big thrill, “adding he ”felt very comfortable out there.:

Toyanam Grouses teammate Jerod Ward scored 34 points enroute to the easy win over the West, stretching the lead to 30 with three minutes remaining in the game.Sendai 89’ers forward Mamadou Diouf scored 24 points while going 11-for-16 from the free through line for the East.

Oita Heat Devils forward Andy Ellis led the West with 23 points, while Takamatsu’s Julius Ashby had 23, and Tokyo Apache’s John Humphreys talled 23.

Ward said the All Star Game was just a demonstration of how exciting professional basketball will be for Okinawa. The new Okinawa team will be formed in the next several months, and begin play next season. The BJ League has made no announcement as to where the team will play on the island, or what it’s name will be.

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