25 August, 2023
10 September

History of Japan basketball

Top 3 moments in Japanese basketball
  • 1. FIBA Basketball World Cup 2006 in Japan

    - From 19 August to 3 September, Japan hosted its first-ever World Cup.
    - Japan, competing as the host nation, won one game but was eliminated in the Group Phase.
    - Spain won the World, with Pau Gasol - one of the Global Ambassador of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 - winning the MVP.

    2. Inaugural season of the B.LEAGUE in 2016

    - The B.LEAGUE was established in 2016 as the third professional sports league in Japan after baseball and football.
    - The mission of the B.LEAGUE is to 'Develop world-class players and teams', 'Pursue the best entertainment', and 'Build dream arenas in Japan'.
    - As of the 2022-23, its seventh season, there are 24 B1 teams and 14 B2 teams. B.LEAGUE has national team players competing in the league of not only Japan but also various countries such as Australia, Finland, Indonesia, the Philippines, Slovenia, Spain, and so on.
    - B.LEAGUE is also a local ambassador of Japan for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.

    3. Establishment of Okinawa Arena in 2021

    - While most basketball venues in Japan have been gymnasiums which are built more for playing, the Okinawa Arena was constructed as “the dream arena" that focuses on the fan experiences by learning and getting insights from arenas in the USA. The arena, equipped with the latest LEDs and high-definition cameras, aims to give the best experience for fans to watch basketball in the house. The capacity is 8,000 with the basketball setting. The arena will be the venue for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. We hope fans from all over the world will enjoy the world best basketball games in the best arena in Japan!

  • Kenichi Sako

    Kenichi Sako is the first Japanese player who was inducted to the FIBA Hall of Fame.

    He won 7 National Basketball League titles, and 3 MVPs, and has been selected as the best five 9 times. Also as a long-time leader of the Japan national team, Sako contributed a lot to qualify for the World Cup in 1998 for the first time in 31 years.

    Yuta Tabuse

    Despite his height of 168 cm, Yuta Tabuse was one of the legends that opened the door for Japanese players abroad.

    He won nine titles in high school (all the major national high school competitions in Japan) and is still the only player to have achieved this.

    After high school, he moved to the USA where he secured a spot on the Phoenix Suns' opening roster in 2004, becoming the first Japanese player to play in the NBA. After returning to Japan, he continued his career as a player and became the first B.LEAGUE champion with the Utsunomiya Brex.

    Yuta Watanabe

    At the age of 16, he was the youngest player at the time to be selected for the senior Japanese national team.

    After graduating from high school, he moved to the USA and played in NCAA Division 1 with George Washington University, where he was appointed to be the captain in his senior year.

    Although his style of play is renowned for his defense, in the 2022-23 NBA season with the Brooklyn Nets, he was ranked first in three-point percentage in December 2022.

    Yuta Watanabe continues to forge his own path with hard work, making his mark in the NBA.

    Rui Hachimura

    Hachimura emerged early and led Meisei High School to three consecutive Winter Cup (national championship) titles in high school.

    His performance in international competitions was also remarkable, and he was the top scorer at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2014.

    After high school, he joined the Gonzaga University in the USA where he made it to Elite Eight in the 2019 NCAA tournament.

    After a successful cperiod with Gonzaga, in 2019 he became the first Japanese player to be picked in the first round of the NBA Draft, joining the Washington Wizards. This was one of the brilliant achievements in Japanese basketball history.