2014 was great start for professional Basketball in Hiroshima – fans will be happy to know that there are now two official, professional league teams that play in the city: The Hiroshima Dragonflies and the Hiroshima Lightning. Both team’s seasons run from October to May. The BJ league team also offers great kids classes during the week to inspire young players.
Hiroshima Dragonflies (NBL)
The 2014-15 season was the Hiroshima Dragonflies (広島ドラゴンフライズ) debut season as an established team within Japan’s NBL (National Basketball League). The NBL started in 2013 and now includes the previous JBL (Japan Basketball League). The coach, Kenichi Sako, is a former national team player who was nicknamed “Mr.Basketball” and won the MVP award three times during his professional career.
The Dragonflies are in the Western Conference in the NBL and in the 2014-5 season they completed the season with a 3rd (out of 6) place ranking in the division with a record of 21 wins and 33 losses. Number 13, American Clinton Daniel Chapman, was their top scoring player averaging 15.2 points a game. Kosuke Takeuchi and Cheikh “Pif” Faye were the other top scoring players in the debut season.
Hiroshima Lightning (BJ League)
2014 was the trial first season for the Hiroshima Lightning which is run by the Hiroshima Basketball Co., Ltd., The team officially started playing in January when they joined the “challenge league” to give young players a chance to compete as a part of the official BJ League. In April, 2015 the Hiroshima Lightning were confirmed as one of the official teams of the BJ league for the next season starting in October, 2015.
We went to watch a Hiroshima Lightning match at the end of their first season at the Naka-ku sports center and it was a lot of fun. Shooting guard Brandan Striplin posted one of the games from April (2015) of the Hiroshima Lightning vs the Hyogo Impulse at the Naka-ku Sport Center gym.
The team has a lot of hustle and some very talented players Japanese and American players. The cheerleaders also put on an exciting half time show and there was an enthusiastic crowd cheering them on. The tickets are reasonably priced and going to a game was a fun family activity. You can see highlights of the games on the BJ League’s official YouTube channel.
The Hiroshima Lightning also has a fantastic kids basketball school called the “junior academy” open to boys and girls of all ages: elementary and under is usually put into one group and the older kids in the other. The kids and coaches (players in the pro team) all have a great love of the game. Player Daichi speaks English really well and the other players on the team can speak a bit of English too. Most drills and practices can be easily followed without Japanese ability. The players host drills and scrimmages for the kids during the class and have a very positive coaching style which really encourages the kids.
These basketball classes are held around Hiroshima city 4 times per week (and 1/wk in Kure too). Practices are held from 5-7pm on Mondays (Naka-ku), Wednesdays (Saiki-ku), Thursdays (Asa-minami-ku) and Fridays (Nishi-ku/next to Coca-Cola Stadium) every week of 2 hour long practices. It is very low pressure if you can’t come very often and the emphasis is on improving skills and having fun. You can do a free trial class at any time. If you want to join, there is a 10,000 yen joining fee and a monthly fee of 6,000/month.
You can find out more about the Hiroshima Lightning’s game schedule, players, junior academy team schedule and other information (in Japanese) on the official website.
I haven’t yet had a chance to get to a Hiroshima Dragonflies game, but hope to in the next season. They seem to play in a bigger arena and the higher ticket prices are similar to what you would pay in the US at a pro game. have heard rumors that there is a junior team for the Dragonflies as well, but haven’t been able to find any details about it, please write in or comment below if you have any links or information to share.