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NBA player Yuta Watanabe to return to play in Japan next year

时间:2024-07-25 23:06:49 出处:阅读(143)

NBA player Yuta Watanabe to return to play in Japan next year

By SHUHEI NOMURA/ Staff Writer

April 20, 2024 at 17:44 JST

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Photo/IllutrationYuta Watanabe, right, hugs an Australian player at the Basketball World Cup held in 2023. (Shuhei Nomura)

National Basketball Association player Yuta Watanabe announced April 20 he will return to Japan next year to play in the professional B. League.

Watanabe, 29, played for the Memphis Grizzlies, which ended its season with a 27-55 record and missed the playoffs.

On his SNS account, Watanabe gave two reasons for his decision. He cited the lack of playing time this season and his sense of having fulfilled a personal pledge to do whatever it took to remain playing in the United States through his 20s.

After graduating from Jinsei Gakuen High School in Kagawa Prefecture, Watanabe spent the next 11 years playing in the United States. He graduated from George Washington University before becoming the second Japanese player to make it to the NBA.

Over six seasons, Watanabe bounced around among a number of teams, including the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns.

He said he would decide which B. League team to sign with in the coming months.

Watanabe helped the Japanese men’s team win a berth to the Paris Olympics to be held this summer.

It was the first time since the Montreal Games in 1976 for Japan to win a basketball berth at an Olympics on its own merit. It competed in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 as host nation.

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