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IBL Volcanoes Coach and Player move to Japan

August 8, 2013 – Vancouver, WA –  Volcanoes Head Coach Joe Navarro and his former player Kenta Nakashima, now President of the Hiroshima team, are back together in a move to Japan as Navarro takes the lead on the bench competing in the new bj-Challenge League
Kenta Nakashima played three seasons with the Volcanoes from 2010 to 2012 after being a part of the Nippon Tornadoes in 2009, and saw that there was no professional basketball team in his hometown of Hiroshima where he wants to make the dreams of the youth come true, so he decided to retire and use what he calls his “ideal team experience” to model his after. He still talks about ‘belonging’ to the Volcanoes, which still bonds him to the IBL and bj-League partnership, “Many IBL players are playing very well in bj-league, Japan. More IBL players will get chance to play in bj-league because we have this relationship,” Nakashima declares.
The new bj-Challenge League is set to start competition featuring six teams in the 2014-2015 season, with teams moving to the bj-League in the future, similar to the branding and full season team concept in the IBL. “bj-Challenge League is the place to give a chance to young players, who can be called up by bj-league teams,” Nakashima shares about the new league he will also assist in building. “In my organization, I will make a big pyramid, where we will put bj-League Academy at bottom which includes basketball training and English class, bj-Challenge League is in the middle, and bj-League at top, as we aim to place a player in the NBA.” For the Japanese to win in Asia and compete internationally Kenta knows they have to study about U.S. and Europe as a top levels basketball in the world, sending a lot of Japanese players, coaches and officials to develop, as well as bring them to Japan.
A familiar face will be joining President Nakashima in building the ‘middle part’ towards a bj-League team, current Head Coach of the Vancouver Volcanoes and NBA Special Assignments Scout, Joe Navarro.  
“I have known him for 3 years, an excellent coach with wisdom, good mind, and good way of thinking.  Coach Navarro also knows Japanese culture very well and I believe that he will make Japanese players better international players while helping to keep building his career,” Nakashima boasts about his former coach. “Basketball is life for me. I appreciate the IBL and Vancouver Volcanoes because my dream which I want to enter to American professional team didn’t come true without their support.”
The Vancouver Volcanoes started their relationship with the Japanese back in 2009, now sharing this with the League which has developed into the direct partnership between the two men’s professional leagues sharing players and now coaches, with official’s development in the works with IBL Director of Officials Tommy Nunez.  
"We have had a relationship with the Japanese for a number of years, two great players with us and our minority owner, Gary Akiyama in partnership with Tatsumi Nishida with IBL Asia working on opportunities not only for our players, but our Coach for some time and it is great to see this happen for Joe.  He really understands and appreciates the Japanese culture, and has a lot of knowledge on how to use talent as well as x's and o's to propel teams to win,” General Manager and majority Volcanoes owner Bryan Hunter shared. 
Navarro is excited to see the partnership turn into an opportunity for him to take his coaching talent overseas. “It’s really been going on for a few years now. The Volcanoes have been to Japan twice to gage the interest and our trips were unbelievable!  Their hospitality is great, and the people really love basketball, which is evident in the success and recent expansion in the bj-League. Kenta Nakashima, my former point guard for the Volcanoes is now the GM/President of the expansion team in Hiroshima and I appreciate the opportunity he is giving me,” the Head Coach of the Volcanoes shared.
With the team starting play in 2014-2015 Coach Navarro has a lot of work to do including with the Hiroshima Basketball Academy, where they collaborate with the bj-League in developing a youth program, as well as scouting reports on personnel and teams in the league in preparation for the 2014 season. “I’ve been evaluating players since I’ve been with the Volcanoes for the last four years and have a pretty good feel for guys who fit into my system,” Navarro shares about how he will put a winning team on the court overseas. “Having Kenta as my GM, who has played in my system helps immensely with the talent on the Japan side.  He understands the type of players that work well in my schemes. I’m really looking forward to working with him and putting a team together."
There are rules in the bj-League that limit imports to four for each team, therefore the majority of Hiroshima will be Japanese players for Coach Navarro who has taken this on at home for the Volcanoes, just in the reverse. “The language barrier is really the hardest thing, but other than that it isn’t much different.  I think we play a more physical game here in the states.  I’ve coached Kenta and Rocket with the Volcanoes, and Masa with our IBL-All Star team, so I’ve been really lucky to coach 3 very good players.  Players that good aren’t too hard to coach, “Navarro stated.
It sounds like it will be a welcome relocation for the fall-winter season for Navarro, who has been to Japan twice before hosted by IBL Asia and Tornadoes owner Tatsumi Nishida. “I can’t eat the sushi here for a few months after I leave Japan.  It’s that good.  The seaweed is so different.  All the food is so good over there, I miss it a lot,” Navarro shared, “it is going to be a really a great experience, it’s amazing there.”
Many Volcanoes and their fans are asking what this means for their 2014 season.  “You will still see Coach Navarro on the Volcanoes bench for our 2014 season, it just may be a little later after gaining this experience overseas and building the Hiroshima team with our former player Kenta," Hunter shared.
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