Tuesday, June 4, 2024

[Report] ‘B.LEAGUE AWARD SHOW 2023-24’ was held to conclude the season... UTSUNOMIYA BREX D.J. Newbill won his first MVP award !

May On 31 , the ‘B.LEAGUE AWARD SHOW 2023-24’ was held at the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building Triangle Plaza under the theme ‘ON OUR WAY - Excitement, and Beyond’. The winners of the Leaders and Individual Awards were announced.

First-time winner Milling HC of HIROSHIMA DRAGON FLIIES, who won the championship, ‘KACHI JAKE!’ performed.

He also revealed his joy at the awards [(c) B.LEAGUE].

The MC called for the players, who entered the venue one after the other dressed in semi-formal costumes. Chairman Shinji Shimada, who gave a speech, looked back on the season and expressed his gratitude, saying: ‘This award is not only for the players, but also for the coaches, team staff, front office staff, referees, mascots, cheerleaders and all the others who have supported the B-League. I hope you enjoy and stay with us until the end. We look forward to working with you’.

First up were the annual championship and the Best Head Coach Award. Members of HIROSHIMA DRAGON FLIES, winners of the NISSAY B.LEAGUE FINALS 2023-24 against RYUKYU GOLDEN KINGS, took to the stage to receive the championship trophy from Japan Basketball Association President Yuko Mitani to captain #2 Shogo Asayama and Chairman Shimada to Head Coach Kyle Milling was presented with a commemorative gift. Asayama, who is retiring at the end of the season, said: ‘I don't think there is a better way to end a season than this. I was just so happy to see that view with the best friends and the best fans and boosters.", followed by the familiar words from HC Milling: ’One, two, three, KACHI JAKE! was also uttered by HC Milling.

The ‘Kokoro, Tagiru’ award is presented to individuals or groups whose activities or results inspire the hearts of viewers. The ‘Kokoro, Tagiru' Award goes to Yuki Togashi of the CHIBA JETS (#2). He led the Japanese national team as captain at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 and contributed to the CHIBA JETS winning the 99th Emperor's Cup All Japan Basketball Tournament and the EASL 2023-24 season. ‘I received this award as an individual, but I think it's only possible with the help of my teammates, boosters and staff. I accept this award as a representative of the CHIBA JETS, who have fought through a tough season this year. I would like to thank everyone. Thank you very much.’

SAN-EN NEOPHOENIX #0 Thirdy Ravena, from the Philippines, received the ‘Impressive Asia Player of the Year’, which was newly established this season. ‘First of all, I would like to thank all the B-League fans,’ he said, ‘I feel really honoured to receive such a great award. Next, I would like to thank my family as well. Without the support of my family, it would have been impossible for me to perform like this. I would also like to thank all my teammates who have supported me and helped me on many occasions, not only this season but also in the four years I have been with the team SAN-EN NEOPHOENIX. Finally, I would like to thank God as well. Thank you very much indeed’.

He also revealed his joy at the awards [(c) B.LEAGUE].

After the B1 Leaders were awarded, the ‘B2 Regular Season Player of the Year (MVP)’ was next announced. The B2 MVP was awarded to #21 Brandon Ashley, who played both offensively and defensively for ALTIRI CHIBA, which posted the highest winning percentage in the B League with a 56-4 regular season record.

Through the VTR, he said, ‘It is a great honour to receive such an award. I honestly don't feel 100 per cent that I am worthy of receiving it,' he said openly, but added: ’I think it's the result of having a great team and staff, so I feel that they won the award with me. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and ALTIRI CHIBA’. ‘We didn't reach our own target, but 56 wins in the regular season is something to be proud of. We look forward to your continued support", he continued.

ALVARK TOKYO's Luke receives long-cherished first award.

Luke at the top of the mascot's list [(c) B.LEAGUE].

Jumbo-kun of CHIBA JETS, Luke of ALVARK TOKYO and Rowl of KAWASAKI BRAVE THUNDERS, who were the top three winners of the B.LEAGUE MASCOT OF THE YEAR, appeared at the event. Luke was the first to win the award, sweeping the four categories of fan, player, media and other mascot voting.

The ‘“2023-24 SEASON FAIR PLAY OF THE YEAR” presented By NISSAY’ was won by the Shinshu Brave Warriors in B1 and the Koshigaya Alphas in B2. Tomoya Hasegawa, Koshigaya #8, said to laughter from the audience, ‘Our team is led by head coach Ryuzo Anzai, and we have a gruff line-up, so I wondered if we would get this award. I would like to take this wonderful award home with me. Thank you very much'.

Shinshu #11 Kaito Ishikawa also revealed, ‘Our team aims for fair play, and the HC sometimes gets angry with us saying “don't give technical fouls and unsportsmanlike fouls”, so I think that's why we were given this award. ‘Next season we will be in a different category, but we will do our best to get promoted from B2 in the shortest possible time. Please cheer on SHINSHU BRAVE WARRIORS.' He also expressed his enthusiasm.

The "2023-24 SEASON” Basket LIVE” On Fire Award went to UTSUNOMIYA BREX #6 Shin Hiejima and KUMAMOTO VOLTERS #3 Shota Yamamoto, both for the first time. They won a double award with their team. Kumamoto #3 Yamamoto said: ‘Thank you for all your support through Basketball LIVE this season. I am very happy to receive such a wonderful award because of your support’ and commented, ’Next season I want to step up even more than this season and become a player who can give energy and courage to all the fans. Thank you very much for today.’

#6 Hiejima said: ‘This award makes me realise how much support we have from our fans. Thank you so much,’ he expressed his gratitude and added: ’We want to become a team that people want to support and love even more. We look forward to your continued support’.

In the ‘B.LEAGUE Monthly MVP by JAPAN POST’ section, the original JAPAN POST character Posukuma appeared wearing a B.LEAGUE uniform to check out the highlights of the players selected as the Monthly MVP, including Utsunomiya #25D.J Newbill, who won the award for two consecutive months for the first time in February and March. D.J. Newbill, who won the award for the first time in two consecutive months in February and March, was picked up by the audience to loud applause.

Two of Japan's basketball leaders say goodbye to the court.

Two players who are retiring at the end of the season were awarded 2023-24 SEASON LIFETIME ACHIVEMENT AWARD [(c) B.LEAGUE].

The ‘2023-24 SEASON LIFETIME ACHIVEMENT AWARD’ went to two players, Ryota Sakurai #11 of LEVANGA HOKKAIDO and Nick Fazekas #22 of KAWASAKI BRAVE THUNDERS. The two players, who have had a significant impact not only on their teams but also on the Japanese basketball scene as a whole, were warmly applauded when they appeared in the audience. GUNMA CRANE THUNDERS #7 Kei Igarashi and Gunma #9 Naoto Tsuji made a surprise appearance as presenters. The two players expressed their appreciation for their efforts as they leave the court at the end of the season.

#11 Sakurai said, ‘I believe that 636 consecutive games is all I have left. I want to thank my parents for giving me a strong body, my family for creating an environment where I could concentrate on basketball, and the boosters and sponsors who supported me both in good times and bad,’ and to #2 Asayama, who had come to the venue as a member of the winning team, ’I really  Thank you for your hard work. Congratulations on your victory’.

The #22 Fazekas, who played in Japan for 12 years and has Japanese citizenship, began his speech by saying, ‘Normally I would like to give a 30-minute speech to thank everyone, but if I talk that long it would be too much for the interpreter, so I will keep it short today’, before continuing as follows. He continued as follows.‘Thank you for coming together. Thank you also to Tsuji for coming. I think he and I have changed the world of Japanese basketball and I consider him my partner. I don't think I would be where I am today without him, and I think what we were able to build together was really special. I spoke to a lot of people and a lot of people commented to me, ‘Nick, thank you for changing Japanese basketball’. It was good to be able to put the passion of basketball into this country. I feel very honoured to be part of the history of Japanese basketball.’

KANAZAWA BUSHIDAN #11 Shota Tanaka appeared to introduce the B.HOPE activities. Referring to the impact of the 2024 Noto Peninsula earthquake, he said: ‘Thanks to the support and encouragement of the local community, league officials and fans, we have been able to return to the league. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you. We will never forget our gratitude and will continue to do our best. On behalf of the team, I would like to thank you for your continued support’.

Utsunomiya #25 D.J. Newbill wins first MVP award: ‘I want to thank everyone in the B.League’

He led Utsunomiya to the highest winning percentage in B1 [(C) B.LEAGUE].

‘I think B.League was a tremendous success. I want to celebrate the players who have left a strong impression on my memory, not just on records", said Yoshito Okubo, former Japanese national football team player, who was a cast member in the “Regular Season Most Impressive Player (MIP)” section. SHIGA LAKES  #99 Koya Kawamada, who was named as the winning player, said: ‘I don't think I could have won this award on my own. I will continue to do my best to attract everyone both on and off court. I want to continue to have fun and make this B.League exciting, so please keep up the good work!’ He said with huour.

Leo Vendrame, SUNROCKERS SHIBUYA #9, won the ‘"2023-24 SEASON TOUGH SHOT OF THE YEAR"’, and was also presented with a G-Shock MRG-B2000B-1A4JR. ‘I'm Leo Vendrame, who took the toughest and most difficult shot of the season,’ he greeted the audience, ‘I know there are people who think that my fave was the tougher shot or that my fave was the cooler shot, so I'll take your feelings as well and accept this award today on behalf of them. I would like to receive this award on behalf of them. I would be happy if you could fave me next to my guess,’ said #9 Vendrame in his own words.

Unlike in the past, the ‘"2023-24 SEASONBEST FIVE"’ and ‘2023-24 SEASON BEST FIVE Second Team’ were selected as the ‘2023-24 SEASON BEST 10’. Utsunomiya #6 Hiejima, Utsunomiya #25 Newbill, Chiba J #2 Togashi, YOKOHAMA B-CORSAIRS #5 Yuki Kawamura and SHIMANE SUSANOO MAGIC #2 Perrin Buford were named in the Best Five.

Finally, the "2023-24 SEASONMVP" was announced: 24 HCs, 48 media reporters and 303 players voted for Utsunomiya #25 Newbill as the MVP. Utsunomiya #25 Newbill, showing his white teeth, expressed his joy after watching the VTR message from Utsunomiya Associate Coach Kevin Braswell, Utsunomiya #0 Yuta Tabuse, Kawasaki #0 Yuma Fujii and NAGASAKI VELCA #18 Yudai Baba.

He said: ‘I would like to thank everyone in B.League. They have always pushed me to become a better player and have given me warm support throughout the season. I would like to thank all my coaches, teammates and staff for the warm welcome they have given me as teammates from day one of this season. It's not an individual award, it's an award won by the whole team, so I'd like to thank the team and everyone involved, and I'd also like to thank everyone at BREX Nation.’

The 2023-24 season came to a close with the end of the awards, which were full of laughter and tears.

Interview and text = Basketball King