09 - 15
June 2024
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Rui Hachimura: Showing love for BCL Asia, Dragonflies in nostalgic return to Dubai

DUBAI (UAE) - When Rui Hachimura walked into the Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Sports Hall for the last day of the Group Phase at BCL Asia 2024, he must have felt a blast of nostalgia.

"I'm proud to be Japanese and [The Dragonflies] are here right now competing at the highest level so it's great."



Nearly a decade ago, this exact venue was where the current Los Angeles Laker standout made a name for himself at the global level. Hachimura starred for Japan at the FIBA U17 basketball World Cup 2014, averaging a tournament-high 22.6 points per game to go with 6.6 rebounds per contest.

He was back here once again and enjoying the basketball being played on the court, even if this time as a courtside spectator.

"It's been great," he said of returning to this venue.

Hachimura has done some traveling over this summer as documented on his Instagram account from the Netherlands to France, Spain, Jordan, and now here in Dubai. With BCL Asia in town, the 26-year-old decided to "came out to show some love."

"I think it's really good. Good environment and good energy here. Yeah, it's been pretty fun here."

It's a great time for him to be here as well, as the Japanese B.LEAGUE champions Hiroshima Dragonflies are through to the Semi-Finals of the competition.

"I know some of the guys from the team so I am excited to see them again," said the Toyama prefecture native.

Dragonflies' sharpshooter Toshiki Kamisawa is also a Toyama native who was once selected as a prefectural player when was in Junior High School and has practiced with Hachimura in the past.

"Rui is a year older than me, but very friendly," said Kamisawa back in 2021 as per Sports Hochi. "He was dunking with ease back then, and he beat badly in the game. He is active in the NBA through his efforts and he is a great inspiration to me."

Hachimura said, "I dunno if I'm going to be able to catch up with them, hopefully, I can make it to their next game but I'm happy [to see them]. Happy to see the Japanese team. I'm proud to be Japanese and these guys are here right now competing at the highest level so it's great."

Of course, Hachimura would know best how competing at the highest level can elevate your game. After his outing in Dubai where he scored 25 points in a duel against USA's Jayson Tatum, he went on to star at the U19 World Cup in Cairo and throughout many other competitions with the senior national team - not to mention being the highest Japanese NBA Draft pick ever.

With a strong performance here in Dubai, the Dragonflies can make a global impact as well, should they emerge as champions and qualify for the FIBA Intercontinental Cup where they will go up against other champions from around the world.

"It's good, it's a good opportunity for us, as Japanese basketball is still growing," said Hachimura. "It's going to be good to show what we can do. I'm hoping they're going to be good.

"[Basketball in Japan] is growing little by little every year, I think we still need a lot of experiences like this, these international games and this kind of stuff will help us to grow more. We should be engaged more in this kind of stuff."