JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.

Image search results - "takamatsu"
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Engetsukyo Bridge, symbol of Ritsurin Park. 栗林公園 偃月橋
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Crossing the bridge
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North Pond
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Hovercraft port
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Hovercraft operated by Japan Railways
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Hovercraft port
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Old JR Takamatsu Station
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In front of Takamatsu Station in 1980s
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In front of Takamatsu Station in 1980s
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In front of Takamatsu Station in 1980s
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Takamatsu Castle turret
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The Shiga Lakestars played against Takamatsu Five Arrows again on Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2009 at Hikone Shimin Taiiku Center gym, a 20-min. walk from Hikone Station. These photos were taken on Oct. 31, 2009.
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Entrance to the gym in Hikone. It was the first time for the Lakestars to play a home game in Hikone.
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Entrance lobby is decorated with player cutouts. We had to take off our shoes when entering the Hikone gym. Slippers were provided.
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Current standings: Shiga Lakestars lead the Western Conference with 6 wins 2 losses. (7 wins 3 losses after the weekend was over)
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Official Shiga Lakestars merchandise.
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Cheerleaders perform.
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Introduction of Shiga Lakestars players. This is Chris Schlatter.
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Posing with local kids basketball players who also served as the player escorts during the introductions.
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Special guest Hiko-nyan enters the gym and gives high fives to spectators. A most welcome guest for the Lakestars' for the first time in Hikone.
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Hiko-nyan gives a big hello to the crowd. Hiko-nyan was created as the official mascot for the 400th anniversary celebration of Hikone Castle held in 2007. "Hiko" refers to Hikone, and "nyan" is a baby word for cat.
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Shiga Lakestars official mascot Magnee also welcomed Hiko-nyan to their first game in Hikone. Hiko-nyan is one of Japan's most famous and popular PR mascot characters. So popular that Hikone retained this cat as its official mascot indefinitely.
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Hiko-nyan and Magnee fires up the crowd. Hiko-nyan is a white cat wearing a red samurai helmet modeled after the one worn by Lord Ii Naomasa, the first lord of Hikone Castle.
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According to legend, one day, Ii Naotaka, the third lord of Hikone Castle, was doing falconry in Tokyo and was near a temple when he saw this cat raising its paw. He was led inside the temple where he was able to rest inside.
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A major thunderstorm ensued, and the cat saved him from getting wet. Another legend says that as soon as the cat beckoned Naotaka into the temple, lightning struck the tree where he was standing. Thus, the cat saved his life.
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This legendary cat connection gave birth to the idea behind Hiko-nyan. This same legend is also one theory for the origin of the ubiquitous beckoning cat you see at shops and restaurants in Japan. The beckoning cat can be called Hiko-nyan's cousin.
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Hiko-nyan shakes hands with Shiga Lakestars Head Coach Robert Pierce as amused players look on. Note that Hiko-nyan is not related to Hello Kitty. The Japanese really love their cats. Shiga has other mascots modeled after cats.
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Cheerleaders encourage people to join the Lakestars booster club.
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Head Coach Robert Pierce and Assistant Coach Ishibashi Takatoshi.
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Introduction of starting five. This is Gary Hamilton #2. Unfortunately, team captain Fujiwara Takamichi got a dislocated shoulder and is on the disabled list.
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Joho Masashi #31
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Both teams shake hands.
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Ogawa Shinya gives Hiko-nyan a hug.
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Tip-off at about 5 pm between the Shiga Lakestars and Takamatsu Five Arrows in Hikone.
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Takamatsu scores first.
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Hikone Shimin Taiiku Center gym
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Bobby Nash #33 looking to pass.
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Joho Masashi #31
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Bobby Nash #33
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Free throw by Gary Hamilton #2.
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Entanglement
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Shinya
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Coach Pierce reacts.
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Free throw by Takamatsu Five Arrows.
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Shiga Lakestars cheerleaders and Magnee.
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The Shiga Lakestars cheerleaders wear a new outfit, a shimmering silver miniskirt. They wore it for the first time during the game with Osaka on Oct. 25, 2009.
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Shinya
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Ogawa Shinya #5
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KOJIMA Yuta #03
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Luke Zellar #40
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Score after the 1st period. Lakestars trail by 1 point.
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Defense!
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Bobby on defense.
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DEFENSE!
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Takamatsu swarms Gary Hamilton.
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Bobby Nash #33
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Sometimes they wear this silver dress, and sometimes a black cowboy outfit.
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The cheerleaders perform during most timeouts, even for 20 sec.
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Mike Hall #23
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Kids
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Chris Schlatter #4 going for 3 points.
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Joho taking it down.
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Score at halftime: Lakestars lead 50-43.
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Dancing to Y.M.C.A. (sung by the Village People) at halftime.
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Magnee playing around.
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During halftime, they held the free throw game for spectators. They gave a little prize to those who got the ball in.
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Joho
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Mike Hall shoots.
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Luke and Bobby rest up.
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Joho helps up a Takamatsu player who crashed into a billboard.
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Luke Zellar was all alone when he sped down the court and dunked this one. Huge cheers ensued. This is what we come to see.
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Shiga Lakestars cheerleaders in their long-pants outfit with windows. Cheerleaders are also athletes in their own right.
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No hot pants for this game. Looks like they wear only two outfits (out of the four I've seen so far) per game.
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Magnee and cheerleaders.
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Butterfingers
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Bobby gives a signal as he plays point guard with Fujiwara disabled and Shinya fouled out of the game.
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Gary with the ball.
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Coach Pierce gives a heated pep talk during a break.
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Butterfingers again.
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Lakestars still lead at the end of the 3rd period: 71-59
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Luke Zellar on a free throw and Coach Pierce looks on.
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Ogawa Shinya #5, local boy from Nagahama.
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Shiga Lakestar cheerleaders always do a great job when firing up the crowd, whether it's "DEFENSE!!" or "GO GO LAKES!!"
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She's glowing.
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Cheerleader on roller blades.
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Like a big party.
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If you feel down or depressed, see a basketball game to cheer you up.
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Mike Hall
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The Lakestars led most of the way so it wasn't a cliffhanger game like with Osaka Evessa the weekend before.
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Final score: 93-79. The Shiga Lakestars win their fifth home game in a row. However, on the next day, they lost their first home game of the season as Takamatsu took revenge and won handily 81-91.
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Closing speeches
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Head Coach Bob Pierce thanks the crowd for coming and urges them to come again to support the Lakestars. (Will do.)
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The game's MVP was Gary Hamilton who was awarded with a gas heater from Osaka Gas.
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Shinya also talked.
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The Shiga Lakestars are on a roll with five home game victories in a row, putting them in 1st place in the Western Conference. Team morale must be high.
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Victorious American players high five with the crowd.
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Japanese players high five with the crowd.
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Head Coach Robert Pierce high five with the crowd.
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Asisstant Coach Ishibashi Takatoshi. Also see my other Lakestars photos and player info here.
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Introduction of Takamatsu Five Arrows players.
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Introduction of Takamatsu Five Arrows players.
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Introduction of Shiga Lakestars players.
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Shiga Lakestars pose with their escorts. They held a few children's basketball games before the main vent.
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As both teams warm up on the court, the cheerleaders teach the crowd how to cheer during the game.
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GO! GO! LAKES!!
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Lakes is the nickname for the Lakestars.
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GO! GO! LAKES!!
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Boosters behind the Lakestars bench.
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Bobby Nash fan.
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National anthem. The waving flag is an animated video image.
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Introduction of the starting five players for the Five Arrows.
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Introduction of the starting five players for the Lakestars.
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One corridor in the gym is lined with large cutouts of the Lakestars.
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Team huddle before tip-off.
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Both teams shake hands.
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Game tip-off at 5 pm between the Shiga Lakestars and Takamatsu Five Arrows.
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Bobby Nash shoots for 3 points early on.
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Gary Hamilton
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Joho Masashi #31
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Gary Hamilton takes the ball down court.
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Good defense
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Joho and Takada Hidekazu
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Mike Hall
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FUJIWARA Takamichi #11 is also the team captain as he was last season.
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His nickname is "Wara."
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Joho and Head Coach Robert Pierce.
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Rebounding
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It's always dramatic to watch Joho take the ball down the court.
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The Lakestars take the lead in the 2nd period.
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During a break, a little game for these two little kids.
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KOJIMA Yuta #03
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Mike Hall #23
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Block
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Mike Hall #23
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Bobby Nash #33
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Takamatsu Five Arrows Head Coach John Neumann who used to be the HC of Fukuoka Rizing. This is his first season with Takamatsu. He's one of the more vocal coaches during games, almost comical and pretty amusing.
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Shiga Lakestars cheerleaders wear the same outfits as last season.
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Shiga Lakestars cheerleaders are hot this season too.
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Magnee joins the Lakestars cheerleaders.
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Bobby tries to block a shot.
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At halftime, the Lakestars lead by 9 points, 51-42.
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Chris Schlatter #4 at work.
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Chris
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Gary Hamilton #2
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Ogawa Shinya #5 from Nagahama. No, he's not making the Hawaiian shaka sign.
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Reaching high.
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Shoji Kazuhiro #10 of the Five Arrows fouls Gary Hamilton #2 who crashes to the floor.
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Shoji helps Gary up.
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Shiga Lakestars cheerleaders in their other outfit.
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Cheerleader in our midst.
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Luke Zellar #40
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Chris Schlatter #4
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Shinya fending off one of the Five Arrows.
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Gary Hamilton goes for it.
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Mike Hall #23
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Chris Schlatter
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OGAWA Shinya
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Mike Hall #23
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Lakes boosters
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Lakes boosters
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Bobby Nash and Shinya
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Bobby Nash #33
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Shinya aiming
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I was astonished to find that the Lakestars were leading by 41 points.
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Joho flashes a smile during a timeout as victory seems certain.
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ISHIBASHI Haruyuki #12
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HORIKAWA Ryuichi #8
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ISHIBASHI Haruyuki #12
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Gary goes up to score.
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SATO Hirotaka #9
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Final score 120-72, the Lakestars win by a whopping 48 points.
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Players shake hands after the game.
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Five Arrows bow to their boosters and fans.
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Lakestars Head Coach Robert Pierce speaks.
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The game's MVP was Ogawa Shinya who was very embarrassed to be the MVP as he thought Joho should be MVP.
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On the next day Oct. 11, 2009 (Sun.), the Lakestars whipped the Five Arrows again 92-62. Also see my other Lakestars photos and player info here.
   
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