Japan basketball team hires first female head coach

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Natalie Nakase

SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — A Japanese American woman became the first female head coach in the history of Japan’s professional men’s basketball league last Thursday, Nov. 24.

Natalie Nakase, who has experience as a head coach of a women’s team in Germany, was hired by the Saitama Broncos.

She replaces American coach Dean Murray, who was fired earlier Thursday for what the team said was a violation of his contract.

“I know these aren’t the best circumstances in which to be hired,” Nakase said on the team’s official website. “But I will do everything possible to get the job done. There is a lot of talent on this team.”

The 31-year-old Nakase was an assistant last season under former NBA coach Bob Hill for Tokyo Apache of the same league.

In her playing career, she was at University of California, Los Angeles, from 1999–2003 and spent four seasons in the now-defunct National Women’s Basketball League.

She was born in Anaheim, Calif., in 1980 to Gary and Debra Nakase. According to UCLA’s Bruins website, she names her father as the person she admires the most. She graduated with a degree in psychology.

The Broncos are seventh in the 10-team Eastern Conference with a 5–7 record. (end)

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