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35 Ira Demon Brown (JPN)
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Brown feels Japan have strong chance to rule EABA 2017

NAGANO (EABA Championship 2017) - Naturalized Japanese forward Ira Demon Brown believes they have what it takes to finally annex the crown in the EABA Championship 2017.

Since the tournament's first staging in 2009, Korea have been kings of the EABA Championship, but the 1.93m American-born Brown feels that the team they have put together is good enough to give Japan their first men's title since 1971.

"I feel like we have a strong chance to win EABA because we have players who are very hungry to prove that we can compete at a high level," he said. "We have had an amazingly detailed coach who has been patient in working with us in the short amount of time that we have been together, but we are a completely different team than the one that played in Iran last year."

Brown first saw action for the Akatsuki Five when they played in Tehran, Iran for the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016. Brown averaged a double-double - 13.9 points and 12.6 rebounds - as the Japanese won 4 of their 8 assignments, ultimately finishing in 6th place. His finest performance then was dropping 20 points, 14 rebounds and 3 steals on India. He is Japan's first naturalized player since JR Sakuragi, who last played for the national team in the FIBA Asia Championship 2013. For this particular competition, Brown hopes he can be even more productive for Japan and showcase more of what he can do.

"What I would like to do this time is to show my all around game, both on the perimeter and in the post," he declared.

He did just that in Japan's first victory of the tournament, outlasting Korea, 78-72, on opening day. Brown was Japan's most efficient player, recording 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. He gave the home team the kind of imposing wing presence they had lacked since Takuya Kawamura last saw action in 2011.

Despite their win over rivals Korea, however, Brown feels the team have yet to display the full measure of their capabilities. They have much more to offer, he believes, and he hopes they will be able to play even better as the tournament progresses.

"A win is a win, but we have not reached our full potential yet," he said. "I like where we are, though we have a lot of room to improve and show what we can really do."

"We have not had much time with one another, and I know we can be even better. The biggest reason we won was because everyone contributed offensively, and we got defensive stops when we needed them."Ira Demon BrownIra Demon Brown

As good as he is, though, Brown knows he alone cannot carry Japan's cause in the EABA Championship. He will have to rely on many other players on Japan's roster, which is considered one of their strongest in years. Brown has especially strong praise for the team's backcourt players.

"Everyone has high expectations, but the guards are highly talented with Yuki Togashi, Makoto Hiejima and Daiki Tanaka," he said. "This is a more balanced roster that will prove that no team can just key in on a couple of guys. Every player is capable of scoring at any time and we emphasize aggressiveness both on offense and defense."