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The King of Kawasaki, Nick Fazikas, talks about his insatiable ambition (Part 1) “By tightening my body, I can play better than last season” – Basket Count |

Last season, the Kawasaki Brave Thunders won the Emperor’s Cup in a row, but the league match ended with a semi-final defeat for the second season in a row, just one step away from reaching the top. Nick Fazikas will be the absolute ace of the team this season as well, aiming for the double crown of winning the league title for the first time since the birth of the B League and winning the Emperor’s Cup for the third time in a row. Even though he is a 37-year-old veteran, he has scored a lot with his excellent shooting ability, but last season was not a satisfactory play for himself. He listened to the thoughts of Fazecus, who was quietly burning with fighting spirit to avenge himself in the new season.

How the last season ended with indigestion left with not being able to play with the best members

――First of all, I was surprised by your return to the Japanese national team in the World Cup qualifying window 4 at the end of August. How was the Japanese national team for the first time in a while?

Like everyone else, I was also surprised (laughs). Tom (Horvath) is a friend of mine, but he thought my career was over because he wasn’t selected for the Tokyo Olympics. So when Tom first contacted me and asked me to join the national team, I told him how I felt. From there, we talked about various things and adjusted the schedule.

――How did you spend your time in America when you returned to your hometown?

In my early days off, when I was away from basketball for a while, I was playing golf about four or five times a week. After that, I started doing basketball workouts and weight training, so I played less golf, but in total I did 20 to 25 rounds. You also went to the pool with your child and did other activities under the sun. My workouts at the gym focused specifically on losing weight. I hope that going on a diet and getting in shape will help me move more and play better than last season.

――Looking back on last season, you lost to Utsunomiya Brex in the championship semi-finals. It was painful that Pablo Aguilar was absent and we weren’t able to face the match with our best lineup. It’s no one’s responsibility and it’s force majeure, but wasn’t it difficult to accept?

I feel a little indigestion in that regard. Of course Utsunomiya is a great team and they played what they needed to win. But Pablo is really big and we didn’t fight at our best. I thought I could make Utsunomiya suffer with a big lineup featuring Pablo. We didn’t do anything wrong, but there was a part of the team’s momentum that stopped because of his absence.

――This is your 5th consecutive loss to Utsunomiya in the championship. Do you feel incompatible or weak?

I think it’s not about compatibility, it’s about timing. The year before last, Utsunomiya was in good shape towards the end of the season, and they lost in a row after taking measures against a big lineup that had never been seen before in the opponent’s arena. Last season was affected by the new coronavirus. I know we have lost five times in a row in the championship, but we have beaten in the Emperor’s Cup in a row. It’s always been a tough battle with Utsunomiya, but it’s true that they are ahead of us in the championship.

Big expectations for Maeda, Masuda, and Nami to step up the team

――This offseason, most of the main members remained in Kawasaki on the continuation route, but Aguilar transferred and Michael Young Jr. joined as a replacement.

Pablo is a really tough player to replace. He knew the game at a high level and was one of my favorite teammates. It won’t be easy to fill the void of what he brought.

And Michael is a completely different type of player than Pablo. We have to understand his strengths as a team and make use of them. For example, Pablo didn’t have many chances to handle the ball, but Michael will become a handler and create more shooting opportunities for us. I think that the big lineup will also have different characteristics from last season.

–How to fit young junior players as a big key to further raising the level of Kawasaki. At the same time, I think it is essential for young players to step up, but what is your view on this?

Before I went back to the United States after the break, I talked to Satoru (Maeda) and told him, “I want him to improve and increase his playing time by entering the rotation.” I think he’s had a good workout so far. (Keisuke) Masuda is the same, and I think he knows what to do to increase his playing time. He is a player who can contribute more to the team. I was a little surprised that Nami (Yuhito) joined. He has shooting power, passing sense and explosive power. He’s been a great addition and he’s one of the players we want the team to step up to reach the next level.

――Looking at the remaining members, Jordan Heath will be in his fourth year at Kawasaki this season. At the beginning of the B League, Kawasaki had a hard time finding a partner for Fuzzycas, but they have a great chemistry with Heath.

J (Heath) and I have a good complementary relationship where we can make the most of each other’s characteristics. J isn’t the offensive type who starts by himself, but he’s good at catching passes, and he catches any of my passes. Defensively, he is an outstanding rim protector, covering under goal from the pick-and-roll when attacked by speedy opponents. I think we are a great combination. We bring very different strengths to the team and create great chemistry.

Everyone may expect me to play the same role as when I joined the team, but the situation of the team and the defense of the opponent have changed. Also, my teammates are getting better, so I’m doing fewer sets to get them to shoot. It’s not that my role has changed, but I will continue to score goals and get rebounds this season. However, I don’t shoot as many shots as I did in the NBL era.

――On a different note, I had the opportunity to go to a basketball school run by a team and teach kids. What was your experience as a school teacher like?

It was a lot of fun. His son Hudson has grown up and started playing with a ball. Actually, he’s old enough to go to Kawasaki school, so he’s thinking about enrolling him. Hudson is pretty big compared to kids his age, but still lags behind most kids in terms of coordination. It’s just that the age of 4 years old and 5 years old changes a lot in just one year. He continues to focus on having fun playing basketball. If you say, “Papa, I want to play basketball!” When Hudson starts school, he’ll be doing as much of his own transportation as possible. So I think everyone in the same class will see me very well.

Hudson is already well aware that his father is a basketball player. The same goes for his youngest daughter. She likes to watch games and loves Rowle. The Emperor’s Cup has been the last two seasons in a row, and my family has not been courtside after winning. This season, I want to win the league title for the third time in a row, and I want to take a commemorative photo with the children at courtside. If you can do that, it will be a memory of a lifetime.

The article is in Japanese

Tags: King Kawasaki Nick Fazikas talks insatiable ambition Part tightening body play season Basket Count

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