Arizona Basketball

Reggie Geary first foreign coach to win Japanese title

Reggie Geary has coached the Yokohama B-Corsairs to a 31-21 record and semifinal berth in the Japanese Professional League playoffs despite his team being in its first year of operation (Yokohoma B-Corsairs photo)

Reggie Geary coached the Yokohama B-Corsairs to the Japanese Professional League championship on Sunday (Yokohoma B-Corsairs photo)

Reggie Geary became the first former Arizona basketball player or assistant coach to win a championship at the pro level as a head coach Sunday.

His Yokohama B-Corsairs defeated the Rizing Fukuoka 101-90 in Japan’s bj-league championship game in front of 9,764 spectators at Ariake Colosseum.

Geary is one of a few former UA players during the Lute Olson era coaching today. Others include Josh Pastner of Memphis, Craig McMillan of Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, Jason Gardner, assistant at Loyola (Chicago), and Damon Stoudamire, hired recently by Sean Miller to be an assistant at UA.

Geary, in only his second year in Japan, became the first foreign head coach to capture a championship there. Geary coached his team to its first title in the league’s eight-season history.

“We never stopped believing,” Geary told Ed Odeven (a former Arizona Daily Star staffer) of The Japan Times.

“It’s incredible. It’s unbelievable. I know this hasn’t set in yet, but these guys have been through so much this season and really have just shown such high character throughout the entire season.”

Yokohama’s Thomas Kennedy (Detroit), Draelon Burns (DePaul) and Japanese-born playoff MVP Masayuki Kabaya combined for 80 points in the final game. Kabya had 35 points and Burns 34.

Yokohama shot 50 percent from 3-point range (9-for-18) and 54.1 from inside the arc.

“It means a lot to be a second-year organization and have the success we’ve had over two years,” Geary told Odeven. “It’s phenomenal. It just shows what a lot of belief and hard work by a lot of high-character young men can accomplish.

“And I’m going to take equal pride just in terms of being the first foreign-born coach to win a championship here. There’s been a lot of great coaches, Japanese, American, Europeans that have competed in this league and for me to be the first one I take great honor and I will continue to work hard.”

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