Basketball in Japan has never enjoyed the popularity of other sporting imports like baseball or soccer, but the chairman of the B.League, Masaaki Okawa, is a man on a mission: To raise the profile and popularity of the sport and of the B.League.
The B.League’s three visions are the starting point for this mission. The first is to nurture and develop Japanese talent; having world class players from Japan will raise the profile of the sport. Second is entertainment, with live music, half time shows, projection mapping and LED embedded courts, the games will have more an atmosphere of a concert or music festival than a sporting venue. Which leads to the third vision -- to create a "Dream arena," not a basketball gym but a world class arena in each area in Japan, where people can experience something inspiring and wildly entertaining.
The season’s first two games (both Alvark Tokyo vs Ryukyu Golden Kings) will take place at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium Thursday and Friday nights. The court will be lit up by 1,680 LED displays -- 50 cm each, which took over a year to build.
This LED court aims to bring basketball games to another level. For example, when a player shoots a three-point shot, the three-point line will light up, and also when a player dunks, a special effect and/or the player’s bio will be projected on the court. This will be the first time in the history that an official basketball game is played on a whole-LED court.
The LED court is not the only new tech to be employed by the league; the games will also have a paperless ticketing system with fans being able to use their smart phones to purchase and display tickets.
Both B1 (first division) and B2 (second division) have 18 teams and the teams will compete against each other within three regions- East, Central and West.
B1 East: Hokkaido- Levanga Hokkaido Miyagi- Sendai 89ers Akita- Akita Northern Happinets Tochigi- Tochigi Brex Chiba- Chiba Jets Tokyo- Alvark Tokyo
B1 Central: Tokyo- Sunrockers Shibuya Kanagawa- Kawasaki Brave Thunders Kanagawa- Yokohama B-Corsairs Niigata- Niigata Albirex BB Toyama- Toyama Grouses Aichi- San-En Neophoenix
B1 West: Aichi- Seahorses Mikawa Aichi- Nagoya Diamond Dolphins Shiga- Shiga Lakestars Kyoto- Kyoto Hannaryz Osaka- Isaka Evessa Okinawa- Ryukyu Golden Kings
For more information on the teams and games, visit: https://www.bleague.jp© Japan Today