Most of the guys I played with on the Rising Suns play in a professional 3 on 3 league here in Tokyo called "Legends." It's kind of like a Japanese version of And 1 without the above the rim aspect.
Fresh off our trip from Paris, I made it a point to get out to as many of their games as possible. Not only to check out my boys and Show Love, but also size up the competition!
The 1st event I attended was RIDICULOUS! Basketball aside, the setting alone was chilling. They were in the center of this ancient Greece looking like stone coliseum. The only thing missing was the chariots and lions! The gladiators, however, definitely showed up.
The way the league is organized is, they change teams at each event. The winner of each game gets...(something like) 3 points. Leaving each of them jockeying for position game in and game out, in hopes of qualifying for the Grand Championship.
When the regular season is finished, the top 4 scorers get to choose their respective teams. Those 4 teams compete in the finals which are held in, get this, a night club! With the captain of the winning team getting a grand prize of $10,000. Needless to say, these boys put it all on the line when it comes down to the finals.
It turns out, my man Mitsui is the 2 time defending champion. He qualified for the Grand Championship as a captain, as did Atsushi who was our point guard on the Rising Suns. Although they didn't qualify as captains, S.T. and Matsu also laced em up as members of qualifying teams.
Unfortunately, I ended up getting on the wrong train after work, (yes, I live in Japan!) This cost me a good hour of competition. So I basically missed the semi's. When I arrived Atsushi just happened to be outside and I could tell from his walk alone, he didn't fare so well in the earlier game.
As it turned out, the only one from the Suns to make it was none other than Mitsui (the reigning champ.)
When I walked into the club I was amazed! They did a great job of designing the venue according to their vision. There were 2 huge screens showing the game from above the action, while a few thousand people looked on from every angle possible.
Hosted by the street ball legend himself, Mamushi, who is a great host and hilarious M.C., the scene was set for a much anticipated championship game.
Mitsui (M21) was set to meet Chihiro in the finals. I've played with this dude Chihiro a few times, and the kids got one of the quickest 1st steps I've seen in awhile. Not to mention he plays with a passion that borders on fury.
After killing time with an off-key J-pop band and an entertaining ex-Legends vs present Legends game, they finally got down to business. All the hoopla ceased. And when that ball was in play, the Lion inside of Chihiro was finally cut loose.
The boy was everywhere. Grabbing rebounds, making steels, going to the cup at will. No one could hold him. M21's squad tried to stay in it, but all it took was one cold spell that put them down 10.
They could never recover. Partially on account of having to shoot 3's to make up any kind of ground. But mostly due to the unrelenting tenacity Chihiro's squad brought to the table. They weren't missing. And if they did, they rebounded. Simply put, the game was over midway through the 2nd (of 3) period.
When the final horn sounded, streamers and confetti rained down all over the court as Chihiro's squad ended up with a 25 point victory. I felt bad for my bredren, cause of course I was rooting for him to take home the title. But I must say, Chihiro's approach to the game won over everyone in the building that night.
What was even more powerful, was watching him cry like a baby when it was all said and done. To watch someone go from one extreme to the other in such a short period of time was truly compelling. But shiiiiit, bring me a check for $10,000 dollars and you better believe you're gonna see some tears from ya boy!
All in all, it was dope to see the pinnacle of the league. After getting to know the guys and feel out the scene here in Japan, it was nice to have a little insider's perspective on the entire event. With the way things have been going out here, who knows...perhaps next year I'll be writing this from inside the locker room.