NBA Players from Japan

Japan is one of the Asian nations with the longest basketball traditions, and at the same time, it is one of the founders of FIBA Asia. The Japanese national basketball team had some impressive results in the past. They have two gold medals from the Asian Basketball Championship, been four times at the FIBA World Cup, and played at six Olympic tournaments.

Japan NBA Players:

Yuta Tabuse

Tabuse was born on October 5, 1980, in Yokohama. Standing at 5’ 9” he plays at the position of point guard. With his high school, he won three consecutive national championships, earning him the nickname “the Michael Jordan of Japan”.

Before pursuing a career in the NBA, he played for the Toyota Alvark in the Japanese super league. He attempted to get into the NBA through summer camps. He first tried with Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets, but neither of them offered him a contract. His third attempt was with the Phoenix Suns in 2004, and it was a successful, at least to some extent. On November 3, 2004, he had his debut against the Atlanta Hawks. That was the first time for a Japanese player to play in the NBA. However, his fairy tale lasted for only four games before being let go. He spent some time in the development NBA league before returning in the Japanese league. Currently, he is under contract with Link Tochigi Brex.

J. R. Sakuragi

Born as Milton Henderson on October 30, 1976, in Bakersfield, California, he is 6’ 8” and plays as forward. He played college basketball at UCLA before entering the 1998 NBA draft. There he was picked as 56th by the Vancouver Grizzlies. After just one season his contract was waived. In the next two years, he was playing for summer league clubs in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, France, and Vegas.

In 2001 he signed up for the Aisin Seahorses in the Japanese super League. In 2007 he changed his name from J.R Henderson to J.R. Sakuragi to speed up his naturalization so he could become a Japanese citizen. As a result, he was allowed to play for the Japanese national basketball team.

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