With Yuta Watanabe now seemingly safe on the Nets list, expect Brooklyn to have more success in Japan than they have in the past… and they were already No. 2 behind Watanabe’s Raptors in T-shirt sales last year and Watanabe’s clear No. 1. Of all the NBA players, Steve Curry is right before him.
Watanabe is actually one of two Japanese-born netball players. Cam Thomas was born in a US military hospital in Yokosuka where his mother was stationed at the time. But Thomas returned to the United States, specifically, the Virginia tidal water area. Watanabe is among the most popular athletes in Japan, where he plays for the national team, and regularly communicates with his compatriots in Japanese on social media where he has hundreds of thousands of followers.
On Media Day and the first day of the camp, the Japanese media were present in great numbers. About 15 journalists – TV and print journalists representing some of Japan’s biggest media brands – were on hand at the HSS Training Centre. Compare that to Australia which had three Australian-born players on the HSS courts, but only one journalist.
Watanabe is widely spoken In his native language with reporters about his enthusiasm to join the Nets and where he sees himself fit.
The timing of Nets and Watanabe is good. His time in the NBA’s biggest media market comes as the league tries to cement its presence in Japan.
Among the large economies of Asia, the arrival of the NBA is felt in the Philippines. that it, As Joel Rush noted in writing for Forbes Sportsthe numbers for the archipelago are by far the best, not just in Asia but elsewhere outside the United States, Rush wrote, “63% of people in the Philippines are interested in the National Basketball Association, the highest percentage of any country outside the United States. United, and more than double the 30% in Canada, which has had one or more teams in the league since 1995. At 38%, China has the second highest level of interest.”
But Japan, with its huge economy, has hardly been seen on the NBA scene. Rush wrote that six percent of people consider professional basketball their favorite sport. The NBA hopes to maintain its dominance in China and the Philippines while increasing awareness – and revenue – in Japan.
In pre-season, the Warriors and Wizards (showing another Japanese NBA player, Rui Hachimura) played two games in Saitama, not far from Tokyo, where they sold a 36,500-seat “super arena.”
“The aim of these games is to deepen our relationship with Japanese fans,” said Ramez Sheikh, managing director of NBA Asia. Anthony Puccio Board Member in time. “Not only do international games allow us to bring the excitement of the NBA to fans who may never have had the opportunity to attend an NBA game, but partners, media and celebrities look forward to these games.”
Sheikh also told Bosch that interest must be spurred on by local players like Watanabe and Hashimura if things are to improve. How long will Watanabe get with the net? He played well in pre-season, showing his usual solid defense combined with an improved 3-point shot, leading 5 out of 11, 45.4 percent.
Steve Nash thinks he could see a lot more minutes, telling reporters on Sunday the 6’9″ can play with ‘any group’ of players and praised his sense of the game. A team insider went further when the Nets signed Watanabe. He said it should “celebrate”.
Speaking to Japanese reporters on Media Day, Watanabe said he believed he could contribute. “I don’t think it will be that easy again this year, but I do think that if I do my job well, I will be able to do well. It is difficult, but I hope to enjoy it and carry on.”
If he does, it will not only help the Nets win. It can make them more than the Japan team.