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[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Yuya Osako and Anderson Lopes Flourishing in the J.League

Sparked by the veteran playmakers, who are the top two scorers in the J.League, Vissel Kobe and Yokohama F. Marinos are tied for the best overall record.

There's a direct link between the goalscoring prowess of Anderson Lopes and Yuya Osako and the success of their J.League clubs.

In other words, the totality of their goals is making a big impact in the 2023 season.

Anderson Lopes' Yokohama F. Marinos (14 wins, five draws, four defeats) are tied with Osako's Vissel Kobe (identical record) for the most points (47) in the J.League through Saturday, August 12.

J.League
Yokohama F. Marinos star Anderson Lopes scores on a penalty kick against Gamba Osaka on August 12 at Nissan Stadium. (KYODO)

Brazilian forward Anderson Lopes, whose given name is Anderson Jose Lopez de Souza, scored the go-ahead goal on a 51st-minute penalty against Gamba Osaka on Saturday. It was his 16th goal of the season, and Marinos recorded a 2-1 victory.

Anderson Lopes, who joined Yokohama in 2022, has scored 16 of Marinos' 46 goals in the J.League.

J.League
Vissel Kobe's Yuya Osako in action against Sagan Tosu in Kobe on July 16. (SANKEI)

Osako has notched nearly 40% of Vissel's goals this season. The 33-year-old Kagoshima Prefecture native has 17 of the club's 43 goals.

In Vissel's 1-0 away win over Kawasaki Frontale on Saturday, Osako scored in the 39th minute at Todoroki Stadium.

Osako has already more than doubled his scoring total from the 2022 J.League season (seven goals in 26 matches).

Since the current campaign began in mid-February, Anderson Lopes, 29, has already surpassed his scoring total from last season, too (11 goals in 28 matches).

RELATED:

Iniesta to Play for UAE Team

Former Vissel star Andres Iniesta is beginning the next chapter of his storied career with Emirates Club, a United Arab Emirates pro team, it was announced on Tuesday, August 8.

Emirates Club opens its season on August 19 against Al Wasl.

Iniesta, 39, bid farewell to Vissel and the team's loyal supporters on July 1 in Kobe.

Yomiuri Giants slugger Kazuma Okamoto belts a first-inning home run against the Hiroshima Carp at Mazda Stadium on August 6. (ⒸSANKEI)

It's just a shoe!

Baseball

Okamoto Hits 30 Homers in Sixth Consecutive Season

Yomiuri Giants slugger Kazuma Okamoto is one of the most consistent sluggers in Nippon Professional Baseball.

A quick glance at his career statistics will hammer home this point.

Okamoto has hit 30 or more home runs in six straight seasons. He blasted a career-high 39 homers in 2021.

This season, Okamoto, who is batting .299, has an NPB-best 31 homers and 72 RBIs through Friday, August 11.

The 27-year-old has been on a home-run hitting tear of late. From August 2-9, Okamoto smacked nine homers in six games, including three against in the Giants' 13-0 win against the Hiroshima Carp on August 6, to increase his total to 31.

"I'm glad I hit another home run so that I could get on the right track," Okamoto was quoted as saying on Sports Graphic Number's website after his three-homer outing. "Things like this don't happen often, so I want to switch over and do my best one game at a time. I want to do my best humbly."

Is 30 homers an annual target for Okamoto?

"Well, there are numbers that I use as a guideline for myself," Okamoto told reporters on August 6. "But first of all, I want the team to win, or rather, I want to aim for the championship, so I want to do my best so that I can win again."

Teruaki Sato of the Hanshin Tigers hits a game-ending sacrifice fly in the 12th inning against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on August 12 in Osaka. (ⒸSANKEI)

Tigers Extend Win Streak to Eight

The Hanshin Tigers recorded a 4-3 victory in 12 innings over the visiting Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Saturday, August 12. With the bases loaded, Teruaki Sato hit a walk-off sacrifice fly.

As a result, the Tigers won their eighth straight game.

Hanshin (61-38-4) leads NPB with a .616 winning percentage.

RELATED:


Skateboarding

Olympic Gold Medalist Horigome Triumphs at SLS Event in Tokyo

Yuto Horigome, winner of the men's street event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, added another victory to his long list accomplishment on Saturday, August 12.

Horigome won the men's competition at Street League Skateboarding's Tokyo meet, amassing 37.2 points with a dazzling mix of tricks and gravity-defying showmanship.

Daiki Ikeda was second with 34.0 points, followed by popular American skateboarding superstar Nyjah Huston (26.8 points) in the six-man final at Ariake Arena.

"I'm not going to lie, I'm really happy," Horigome was quoted as saying by olympics.com. "It's the first SLS event to ever be held in Japan and I'm thrilled to be able to skate so well in front of my family friends."

In the women's final, Australia's Chloe Covell was the winner with 32.5 points. Momiji Nishiya, a Tokyo 2020 gold medalist, was the runner-up with 31.2 points.

RELATED:


Jamie Joseph (ⒸSANKEI)

Rugby

Joseph to Join Super Rugby's Highlanders as a Team Executive

What's next for Jamie Joseph, who will part ways with the Japan men's national team after the upcoming Rugby World Cup?

Joseph will begin a new job as the head of rugby for the Highlanders, a Super Rugby club in 2024, according to published reports.

Before taking over as Brave Blossoms head coach in 2016, Joseph led the Dunedin-based Highlanders from 2010-16. That stint included a Super Rugby title in 2015.

In related news, World Rugby released its latest rankings on Monday, August 7.

Ireland, New Zealand, France, South Africa and Scotland retained the top five spots in the rankings.

Japan dropped from 12th to 14th.

Britain's Prince Harry waves as he participates in a summit on the power of sport, community and philanthropy at the ISPS Sports Values Summit-Special Edition in Tokyo on August 9. (Kyung Hoon Kim/REUTERS)

Global Sports Conference

Prince Harry Attends ISPS Summit in Tokyo

The International Sports Promotion Society held its Sports Values Summit-Special Edition on Wednesday, August 9 at Tokyo's Big Sight.

Prince Harry was among the speakers at the conference.

The British prince shared his thoughts on the role of sports in society.

"I have long believed that sport is a conduit for healing ― not just for the mind and body but the world," Prince Harry said during his speech, Hello! reported.

"The lessons we learn on the field are the same principles of philanthropy: that a mission, hard work, dedication, and partnership can make even the impossible, possible. Whether banded together in victory or showing up with respect in loss, no one ever crosses a finish line or scores a goal without the help and belief of others. That, to me, is the power of sport."

Shinji Nakano (center) races in the first round of the men's keirin competition at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow on August 8. (GETTY IMAGES/via KYODO)

Cycling

Keirin Specialist Nakano Earns Bronze in World Championships Debut

Japanese cyclist Shinji Nakano earned the bronze medal in the men's keirin event at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow on Wednesday, August 9.

Colombia's Kevin Quintero won the gold, while Australia's Matthew Richardson secured the silver.

Shinji Nakano displays his bronze medal at the world championships. (Provided by JKA/via KYODO)

Making his world championships debut, Nakano, an Iwate Prefecture native, moved into third place late in the final at Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. And he held that position down the final stretch.

"I was really nervous because it was my first appearance," Nakano, 24, tweeted, [and] would like to be happy honestly! I'm tired. I want to rest. … Thank you for your encouragement."

Boxing

Tatsuyoshi Returns to the Ring for First Fight Since January 2020

Featherweight Juiki Tatsuyoshi triumphed in his first fight in almost three years, defeating Taketo Yamahara via a fifth-round technical knockout on Sunday, August 6 at Osaka's L Theatre.

Tatsuyoshi (14-0-1, 10 knockouts) set the tone for the fight with a ferocious left hook that dropped Yamahara to the canvas in the first round.

The referee called the fight at the 1:35 mark in the fifth round of a scheduled eight-round bout.

Yamahara fell to 2-2 (two KOs).

"I have been through a lot," Tatsuyoshi commented after the fight, according to the Boxing News website, "[and] I want to express my appreciation to those people who have helped me a lot in various ways."

The winning fighter added, "I wasn't too nervous ― I mean, I was able to do my kind of boxing."

Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, Juiki's father, was a WBC bantamweight and super bantamweight champion in the 1990s.

Minnesota Twins starter Kenta Maeda pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 5 in Minneapolis. (KYODO)

Quote of the Week

"Everything body-wise, arm, is feeling good. I keep saying this again and again, but there's nothing concerning in the arm. If anything, I feel better than pre-surgery."

Minnesota Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda, reflecting on his return to MLB in 2023 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing the 2022 season, remarked on August 6. Maeda has allowed two or fewer runs in five straight starts through August 11.

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 Twitter @ed_odeven.

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