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Akita Northern Happinets Improve to 12-12 with Stellar Play in December

After opening the 2023-24 B.League season with 11 losses in their first 14 games, the Akita Northern Happinets have won nine of their last 10 contests.



Akita Northern Happinets
Akita Northern Happinets shooting guard Shigehiro Taguchi shoots a jumper against the Ibaraki Robots on December 24, 2023, in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. (B.LEAGUE)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Akita Northern Happinets Improve to 12-12 with Stellar Play in December

The Akita Northern Happinets turned their 2023-24 B.League season around in December. 

And it happened in the same month in which new roster additions Tanner Leissner and Javier Carter, University of New Hampshire and University of South Alabama alum, respectively, made their season debuts.

Heading into a two-game series against the Fighting Eagles Nagoya on Friday and Saturday, December 29 and 30, Akita (12-12 overall) has gone 9-1 in its 10 games this month.

"The next games are the last games of the year, so we will prepare to win at home," Northern Happinets head coach Kenzo Maeda said.

Akita started December with a six-game winning streak before dropping the series finale 65-63 against the Osaka Evessa on December 17.

Since then, the Northern Happinets have won three in a row. Their current win streak began with an 84-56 rout of the visiting Gunma Crane Thunders on December 20. What followed? Back-to-back victories (79-63 and 88-72) over the Ibaraki Robots (1-23) on December 23 and 24.

Akita Northern Happinets
Northern Happinets forward Javier Carter defends Utsunomiya Brex forward Grant Jerrett on December 6 at Brex Arena Utsunomiya. (B.LEAGUE)

Most notably this month, Akita topped the Utsunomiya Brex 67-63 on December 6. The Brex (18-6 through December 24) are two-time league champions and one of the best overall teams in the B.League.

Based on all of the above, December has been an extended Christmas present ― a joyful celebration of winning ― for Akita's rabid fans.

A Poor Start in the Season's First Two Months

At the same time, the Northern Happinets have transformed their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs into a distinct possibility. 

Entering December, that appeared impossible. After all, Akita owned a 3-11 record following its 76-67 defeat to the Alvark Tokyo on November 12. 

Then the B.League's autumn break began, giving the Northern Happinets time to retool their roster.

Akita Northern Happinets
Akita head coach Kenzo Maeda (B.LEAGUE)

Insights from Northern Happinets Coach Maeda

Appointed Akita head coach in 2019, Maeda has a perspective that comes from several years of observing his team's ups and downs on the basketball court.

Reacting to his team's recent victory over the Brex, Maeda noted that it was an important achievement.


"I think this victory was won by the players in a great environment at the Brex's home court in Utsunomiya, where they all worked together with high intensity and execution for 40 minutes," Maeda told reporters after the December 6 game.

"It was a game that gave us a lot of confidence as a team, and I think it was a great game because the players understood the game plan well in a short period of time. And we were able to win the game patiently while putting out our own concepts in the midst of it."

Akita held Utsunomiya to 12 points in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth. The Northern Happinets scored 33 second-half points to secure the win.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven


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