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[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Keisei Tominaga Shines in the Spotlight in NCAA 3-Point Contests

Showman Keisei Tominaga won the men's 3-point shooting contest held during NCAA Final Four week and then beat the women's champ in Phoenix, Arizona.

For Keisei Tominaga, the NCAA Men's Tournament's Final Four week in Arizona offered the perfect locale to provide another glimpse of his basketball skills before a captive audience. 

NBA talent evaluators descend on the Final Four host city in droves each year, making Tominaga's outstanding display in a pair of 3-point shooting contests a fitting showcase.

Tominaga, who suited up for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers from 2021-24, was one of eight participants in the Hanes Originals Soft Touch Men's 3-Point Championship on Thursday, April 4 in Phoenix.

He had the top score in the opening round (25 points), two more than Ohio State's Jamison Battle. 

Then, in the four-man second round, Tominaga placed second with 24 points, trailing only Hofstra's Tyler Thomas (26) at the Phoenix Convention Center. To reach the final, Tominaga had to make his final shot of the round, and he was poised in the high-pressure moment. 

"Yeah, I knew that," Tominaga told ESPN in a post-event interview. "I kinda knew that, but I just tried my best to make my last shot."

Tominaga and Thomas advanced to the final round.

The final was an impressive exhibit of Tominaga's dynamic long-range shooting ability.

He knocked down 10 of 11 3-point shots in one dazzling display and went on to edge Thomas 19-16 to capture the title. All told, Tominaga sank 16 of 25 attempts in the final round. This included three bonus balls (worth two points apiece).

"Hey Husker nation, I just won the 3-point contest for you," Tominaga said, according to Kyodo News. "Thank you for supporting me. Go Big Red."

Keisei Tominaga
Keisei Tominaga displays his winner's prize after the men's 3-point contest. (AP/via KYODO)

Keisei Tominaga Claims Title in Battle of the Champions

After winning the men's event, Tominaga faced Indiana sharpshooter Sara Scalia in the Sketchers Battle of the Champions later on Thursday. And he secured a 20-16 win over the NCAA women's 3-point champion, nailing 5 of 6 down the stretch to seal the win.

On Friday, Tominaga was back in action, participating in the Reese's NABC College All-Star Game at State Farm Stadium in nearby Glendale.

Playing for the West All-Stars, coached by University of San Diego bench boss Steve Lavin, Tominaga had nine points and three rebounds in 14 minutes in an 87-75 win over the East All-Stars. It was another opportunity to demonstrate his abilities in a high-profile setting. 

After all, the zenith of the college basketball season is the Final Four, with the 2023-24 season champion being crowned on Monday, April 8.

Keisei Tominaga
Keisei Tominaga dribbles the ball in the Reese's NABC College All-Star Game on April 4 in Phoenix. (Courtesy of Nebraska Athletics)

The College All-Star Game featured 20 of the top senior players from NCAA Division I programs.

Keisei Tominaga Concludes College Career in NCAA Tournament

Tominaga, a Nagoya native, played his final official college basketball game on March 22 in the University of Nebraska's NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Texas A&M. He scored 21 points and sank five 3-pointers.

Even better, he helped lead the University of Nebraska men's basketball team (23-11 overall record) to its first NCAA Tournament berth in a decade.

Tominaga averaged 15.1 points per game as a senior in the 2023-24 season.

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Jockey Yutaka Take speaks to reporters on April 3 in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture. (©SANKEI)

Horse Racing

Legendary Jockey Take the Victim of a Home Burglary

Yutaka Take's home in his hometown of Kyoto was burglarized on March 24.

Kyoto Prefectural Police released the information on Thursday, April 4, according to published reports.

Among the 22 items stolen from the famous jockey's home in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward, were precious metals, a luxury wristwatch and cash with a combined value of ¥750,000 JPY (nearly $5,000 USD), the police said, as reported by Kyoto Shimbun.

Take, who was not at home when the incident occurred, issued a statement on his website on Thursday.

"In the early morning hours of March 24, I was the victim of a burglary when my home was broken into by several people," Take wrote. "The family members at home were safe."

He added, "The police are currently conducting a thorough investigation, and I cannot give any more details, but my wife's emotional shock is greater than the material damage, and I myself am, of course, in shock."

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Lemaire Recovering from Racing Injury in Dubai

French jockey Christophe Lemaire sustained a broken collarbone and a broken rib aboard Catnip during the Dubai Turf on Saturday, March 30 at Meydan Racecourse.

The horse had to be euthanized afterward.

It was also later revealed that Lemaire, who was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance, punctured a lung, the Dubai Racing Club announced on April 1.

As a result, Lemaire was set to spend two weeks resting and recuperating in the United Arab Emirates.

Ryosuke Irie speaks at his retirement news conference on April 3 in Tokyo . (KYODO)

Swimming

Four-Time Olympian Irie Announces Retirement

Ryosuke Irie represented Japan at the Olympic Games in 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2021, cementing his status as one of the nation's elite specialists in the pool.

Irie, 34, is now beginning the next chapter of his life. The Osaka native announced his retirement at a news conference on Wednesday, April 3 in Tokyo.

"I'm truly happy to have been able to enjoy a long career as a competitive swimmer," Irie was quoted as saying by Jiji Press.

Irie had his finest showing as an Olympian at the 2012 London Games, earning silver medals in the 200-meter backstroke and 400-meter medley relay and a bronze in the 100-meter backstroke.

Ryosuke Irie competes in the men's 200-meter backstroke at the 2012 London Olympics. (©SANKEI)

Ryosuke Irie holds his 200-meter backstroke silver medal at the London Olympics on August 2, 2012. (KYODO)

In his debut at a major international meet, Irie collected a silver medal in the 200 back at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome. He repeated as the runner-up two years later at the worlds in Shanghai.

Irie earned a total of four world championship medals (two silver, two bronze) in eight appearances through 2023. He also claimed six Asian Games gold medals between 2006 and 2014.

For the well-known swimmer, the goal of closing his career in the French capital this summer was not fulfilled.

"I'm truly happy to have had a long competitive career," Irie said, according to Kyodo News. "I wanted to retire in Paris."

Naoya Inoue (left) and Ohashi Boxing Gym president Hideyuki Ohashi pose for a photo on April 5 at the gym in Yokohama. (Courtesy of Ohashi Boxing Gym/via KYODO)

Boxing

Inoue Reflects on 10 Years as a Champion

Undisputed super bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his first world title.

On the day of the anniversary, Saturday, April 6, Inoue reflected on the stepping-stone milestone for his legendary career.

"April 6 is like my birthday, and it's been 10 years as I've continued my speedy run," Inoue was quoted as saying by Kyodo News in a statement.

In Tokyo, Inoue captured the WBC light flyweight title on April 6, 2014, via a sixth-round technical knockout of Mexico's Adrian Hernandez at Ota City General Gymnasium.

That fight occurred days before his 21st birthday (April 10).

A decade later, Inoue is considered one of the world's best all-around fighters. He's captured world titles in four weight classes, conquering the super flyweight and bantamweight divisions before moving up to super bantamweight in 2023. 

Inoue (26-0, 24 knockouts) also became the undisputed world champion at bantamweight.

Naoya Inoue works out at Yokohama's Ohashi Boxing Gym on April 5. (Courtesy of Ohashi Boxing Gym/via SANKEI)

Up next: he'll make his first super bantamweight world title defense against Mexican challenger Luis Nery (35-1, 27 KOs) at Tokyo Dome on May 6.

About his preparations for the fight, Inoue summed it up as so far, so good.

"I'm getting into amazing physical condition," he was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.

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Baseball

NPB's Giants Announce Fundraising Efforts to Assist Taiwan Earthquake Relief

The Yomiuri Giants have launched a fundraising campaign to aid Taiwan in its recovery from the 7.4 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday, April 4.

As part of its fundraising initiative, the Giants collected donations during its April 5-7 weekend series against the Yokohama DeNA BayStars at Tokyo Dome.

Moreover, to raise funds for the Taiwan earthquake victims, the baseball team plans to sell T-shirts and hold a charity auction with T-shirts autographed by players at a TBA date, the Giants announced on their official website on Wednesday.

The Giants plan to donate ¥10 million (about $66,000) in aid.

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Soccer 

First Indonesian to Play in the WE League Featured in Short Documentary

Forward Zahra Muzdalifah, who plays for the WE League's Cerezo Osaka Yanmar Ladies, is the subject of a short documentary released in 2023.

Muzdalifah, who joined the team in 2023, is featured in the Japan women's professional soccer league's documentary series "WE Life, the Heroes of the WE League."

At the outset of the 7-plus minute program, Muzdalifah, 23, shares her guiding principle as an athlete: "If there's no risk, there's no story and there's no legacy, so yeah, that's my motto in life. You have to move if you want to progress."

Watch the video on the WE League's official YouTube channel.


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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