Kings win with Hayato Maki return – Ryukyu Golden Kings vs Shiga Lakes GAME1 –

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On November 19, 2022, Hayato Maki returned to the Okinawa Arena.

Ryukyu Golden Kings’ Hayato Maki, who had been out for a long time due to a right ankle injury, came off the bench on this day against Shiga Lakes. Maki last played in an official game on February 9, 2022, against the Chiba Jets in the Emperor’s Cup. This will be his first return to the team in about nine months.

The fans at the Okinawa Arena were eagerly awaiting the return of Maki, who is loved by the fans for his strong defense, dedicated play, and kind smile.

The temperature in Okinawa City that day was 26 degrees Celsius.

The first home game in a month was about to begin.

 

Kings’ defense that takes away offense options

Kings starters are #1 Josh Duncan, #14 Ryuichi Kishimoto, #30 Keita Imamura, #34 Shota Onodera, #45 Jack Cooley.

Starting for Shiga are #1 Kelvin Martin, #7 Kai Toews, #13 David Doblas, #14 Teppei Kashiwakura, and #32 Yusuke Karino.

In this first match after the suspension of the B1 League due to the Emperor’s Cup and national team matches, it was Kings who took the lead.

Every player on the court for Kings played strong defense and did not allow Shiga players to play the way they wanted to play.

 

People say, ‘Kings are a defensive team,’ but they don’t put down a complicated and bizarre defensive system. On the contrary, they are the most basic defensive team in the league.

There is a basic basketball defensive philosophy of “first, second, and third lines. The first line is to defend the ball man, the second line is to defend players who are close to the ball man, and the third line is to defend players who are far away from the ball man. This is the basic principle of man-to-man defense, which is also taught in minibus. Kings continue to play this basic defense at the highest level of perfection in Japan.

The first line keeps the feet moving and makes a preemptive move to keep the ballman from going in the direction he wants to go.

The second line stands in front of the player who is about to receive the pass with arms outstretched to eliminate the path of the pass.

If the ball man gets past the defense in front of him, the third line quickly runs to cover defense.

Every single defensive play by Kings takes away the offense’s options, and the shot clock is running down to 24 seconds. The offense is forced into a “tough shot” by a series of low priority plays. The ball bounces off the rim and becomes Kings’ ball by the most probable play in basketball: the defensive rebound.

 

Japan’s best “1st, 2nd, and 3rd lines” induce mistakes in the Shiga offense.

Kings continued to ensure that Shiga’s turnovers were converted into points by Onodera and Cooley.

 

Kings never lost their defensive intensity and dominated Shiga until the end.

In the end, Kings held Shiga to 28% FG% and won by 21 points, 72-51.

 

Maki on the court for the first time in about 9 months

With 3:19 left in the first quarter, Maki took the court for the first time in about nine months.

“I got back on the court sooner than I expected,” Maki said after the game.

As he himself said, “I don’t expect to get playing time easily,” and with only about 7 minutes of playing time on the day, Maki is still not in perfect condition yet.

 

When asked how he spent his time away from the team, Maki replied, “I’ve never had such a forced period of time away from basketball myself. In a good sense, I didn’t think about basketball too much, and on weekends, like everyone else, I spent my time watching Basketball Live and thinking, ‘Everyone is so amazing,'” he said with a smile.

Maki says that he has yet to fully turn on his BASKETBALL MODE after being forced to turn it off, but he is also the player most capable of embodying Kings’ ‘position-less’ philosophy this season.

In order to embody ‘position-less’ himself, Maki said, “I want to be conscious of how I can play to create displacement when I have the ball, and how I can make moves that lead to points.

How much more of Maki’s friendly smile can we expect to see after this point in the season? It may be a barometer of Kings’ growth.