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BASKETBALL | Rebuilding San-en NeoPhoenix Taking Steps in the Right Direction

Under new bench boss Atsushi Ono, the NeoPhoenix have overhauled their roster, laying a new foundation with an influx of youthful players and established veterans.

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San-en NeoPhoenix newcomers Isaiah Hicks (center) and Yante Maten defend Levanga Hokkaido's Shawn Long on October 9 in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture. (B.LEAGUE)

This article first appeared on SportsLook, JAPAN Forward's dedicated sports website.

Over the past two seasons, the San-en NeoPhoenix lost 95 games. They had 22 combined victories in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

In the offseason, management decided big changes were needed, starting at the top. 

Former Chiba Jets head coach Atsushi Ono, who led the club to two B.League championship runner-up finishes and a title in his six seasons at the helm through 2021-22, was appointed San-en's new sideline supervisor in July. 

Ono's first season in charge of the Aichi Prefecture-based team has started with encouraging signs.

The NeoPhoenix have been competitive from the get-go. They dropped their opening game on October 1, falling 87-85 to the perennial playoff-bound Kawasaki Brave Thunders. A day later, Kawasaki needed overtime to put away San-en, winning 88-84.

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Two losses by six points illustrated Ono's vision for the team is slowly starting to take shape.

On Saturday, October 8, the NeoPhoenix won their first regular-season game of the Ono era, defeating the Levanga Hokkaido 76-57. San-en recorded a 93-80 home victory the next day to complete the weekend sweep.

Read the full story on SportsLook.

Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward's [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven, and find him on JAPAN Forward’s dedicated sports website, SportsLook.

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