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Golden Kings GM reflects on title win

Date Posted: 2009-05-28

Tatsuro Kimura knows he’s done something pretty extraordinary, but he’s not letting it go to his head.

Kimura, the General Manager of the Basketball Japan League Champion Ryukyu Golden Kings, is telling everyone “the entire team came together to produce a championship.” Less than two weeks after his boys had taken a storybook-fairytale ride to a 41-11 regular season record, the Golden Kings waded through the playoffs thumping the Rizing Fukuoka in the first round, then riding the coattails of MVP Jeff Newton’s 50-point performance to win the conference championship by tripping up the three-time league champion Osaka Evessa, and then wrapping it up with a big ribbon and a win over the Tokyo Apache.

“What a wonderful experience it is to build a franchise from scratch,” Kimura says, “and go all the way to the top.” What made it particularly heartwarming was it being only the second year in the league, and that the team was 180-degrees out from a year ago when the Golden Kings finished 10-34.

Kimura lured Jeff Newton from the Osaka Evessa to Okinawa. He’d chosen forward Bryan Simpson and Naoto Takushi in the 2007 BJ-League draft, and both shined this year for the Golden Kings. His signing of shooting guard Shigeyuki Kinjo before the Okinawa squad ever hit the hardwoods proved another wise move, as Kinjo went five-for-five in the field and 6-for-6 in the championship game against Tokyo.

He also credits Dai Oketani, the former Oita HeatDevils coach he signed to an Okinawa contract, and Anthony McHenry, who joined Newton in making Okinawa home during the off-season. “Everything turned out the right way,” Kimura says. “I’m just thankful all my guys did great jobs.”

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