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    Japanese basketball players conduct clinic for local youth

    Japanese basketball players conduct clinic for local youth

    Photo By Gregory Mitchell | Japan Basketball League player Joe Kurino looks on with students as fellow JBL player...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka

    YOKOSUKA, Japan - Japanese professional basketball players who grew up in the Yokosuka area shared their skills and knowledge on the basketball court with Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka students during a Youth Basketball Clinic conducted at Purdy Gym, July 6.

    Professionals Jo Kurino and Sam Greene Jr. were in attendance.
    Kurino has been a 10-year veteran of the Japan professional leagues and has played for the OSG Phoenix, Oita Heatdevils, Tokyo Apache, Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Dolphins and Levanga Hokkaido.

    Greene, a 2008 graduate of Nile C. Kinnick High School, was last playing as a guard for the Akita Northern Happinets of the Basketball Japan (BJ) League. Both players are currently negotiating with other teams this off season. Coming back to Yokosuka is a bit of a homecoming for both men, but more so for Kurino, the senior of the two.

    “I was born in Yokosuka and my father was in the service almost 30 years ago,” said Kurino. “He was on the USS Midway (CV 41), so I grew up half my life here in Yokosuka. As a kid, I attended The Sullivans Elementary School, and I attended Kinnick High School when there wasn’t a Yokosuka Middle School, so I’m pretty old. I attended Kinnick in 7th grade then after that I moved to the Washington D.C. metro area to live with my father for my 8th grade year. From there, I finished middle school, high school and also graduated from a Division II school called Mount Olive College. I finished playing basketball in college, so I began working for a year as a graphic designer and then afterwards I got a contract to play in Japan and I have been here ever since.”

    Kurino and Greene were both approached by Morale Welfare and Recreation because they recognized that both players actually grew up in Yokosuka to become professional athletes.

    “We just got together and put this idea in work to come back and give back to the kids,” said Greene. “Hopefully the kids will get something good out of it and at bare minimum they will at least have some fun. If these kids strive for more and if they want to be professional basketball players, we just want to be good role models for them.”

    During the clinic, instruction was divided into two separate sessions to address level of play.

    Children in the first to fifth grade were a part of the first, followed by sixth to 8th grade students in the afternoon.

    Areas of focus during the event were cardio and dynamic stretching, ball handling, defensive skills, passing and shooting techniques.

    The event was open to all students interested from the Sullivans and Yokosuka Middle School, but also in attendance were students from two Japanese elementary schools; Tsurugamine Hon-cho and Sakura Mini, and three Japanese junior high schools; Hayama, Sakamoto and Imajuku.

    In all, more than 300 youth were in attendance for the event.
    “This basketball clinic is not only about learning basketball, but I think it’s about cultural tolerance,” said Kurino. “When I was initially asked to do this clinic, one of the suggestions was to teach most of the kids on base and I just thought that I am half Japanese and half American and obviously this is Yokosuka. When you go off base you see that there are Japanese who except the American culture and they actually except the American side of things and then again being half Japanese, I thought that it would be nice if the American kids and the Japanese kids could really interact and really just get to know each other.”

    According to Greene, he held the same feeling with regards to interaction between the two cultures.

    “Obviously at the time when I was going to school at Kinnick, I knew there were Japanese culture classes here so we knew it was possible that some of the American kids knew a little basic Japanese,” said Greene. “We thought that it would be nice for them to introduce themselves and again, build some sort of cultural unity and hopefully that can build towards something nice in the future.”

    For the off-base coaching staff, the opportunity to visit FLEACT, Yokosuka was fun.

    “This has been a great opportunity for our kids to practice in a different environment,” said Kazumi Takeuchi, head basketball coach, Imajuku Junior High. “Our students were pretty excited about coming to the base; they really enjoyed the food court and some kids even had the chance to purchase souvenirs. In comparison with our own, I see there is a difference in styles with the American kids having more of a ‘power play’ style. I feel we need to not only learn that style, but also improve on our core. This time was about training and technique but in the future, we would like to play a game.”

    Kurino, who trains Japanese students, from elementary to high school in northern Japan said that there was a distinct difference in terms of teaching Japanese vs. American kids.

    “It’s totally different,” said Kurino. “As I said before, I left here after my seventh grade year, so I really grew up in a US-type of environment so I am kind of used that more, but Japanese are relatively controlled and reserved and I think they are highly disciplined but in hindsight sometimes I think that they should have more fun. Of course when you’re dealing with American kids they are very energetic and enthusiastic; they want to make body contact with you so there is a lot of difference in that.”

    Both men project that this clinic will be conducted annually and would like to visit the base as much as their schedules permit.
    “However we can make a lasting impact on these kids is the most important thing,” said Greene. “It’s a good feeling to know that we have the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life.”



    Date Taken: 07.06.2013
    Date Posted: 07.19.2013 04:06
    Story ID: 110444

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