Last year, Shafer Avi Yuuki transferred rental from Arbulk Tokyo to Shiga Lake Stars. With a transfer seeking an opportunity to play, he gained an average of 15.2 minutes of play time, demonstrating his own strength with 4.1 points and 4.5 rebounds while fighting physically with foreign nationals. And this summer, the third year of my career will be at Sea Horse Mikawa. I talked to Schaefer, who recites the retirement number of Sakuragi JR and is particular about the result.
“At first I didn’t know about JR’s retirement.”
── You mentioned on Twitter that you haven’t been playing basketball in a long time, but have you started practicing and are you familiar with the new team?
There are only Japanese athletes, but the practice has begun and cooperation has started, and it is fulfilling. I’ve been working so far, but it’s just a workout, and it’s been a while since I’ve done it in person.
── Who is the best new player for Schaefer?
It’s Kumagai. I’m the oldest one, and since I played basketball together last summer, sometimes two people go to eat.
──By the way, you started playing the game live on YouTube.
Well, surprisingly it was fun for the fans to comment. On and off are clear, I like the game and I wanted to do something and get involved with the fans because of this situation. I recently bought a game for live commentary, so I’m thinking of trying to play it in the near future, so I hope you will beg for me (laughs).
──Isn’t the number of people calling out increased as the media exposure increased, such as on TV?
Since Sea Horse Mikawa is rooted in this area, it is quite possible to ask “Is it a Sea Horse person?” I thought it was a little known when my parents’ family moved in Tokyo and I was able to talk to them in places other than Mikawa. I was most surprised when I was told that I was the one who appeared in “Sakurai/Ariyoshi THE Evening Party” (laughs).
──The name recognition is exploding. Now, let’s move on to basketball. Could you tell us why you chose Mikawa as the transfer destination?
There were 5 or 6 teams. One of the reasons for choosing Mikawa is that it has a training facility and environment. The other was (Sakuragi) When I was asked about JR’s retirement, I felt that he was expecting me.
When I first got the offer, I didn’t know that JR would retire. At first, I thought that it would be meaningless to go to Mikawa where JR players are, as I was able to achieve some results in Shiga. When I tried to hear only the story, JR had retired and my spot was empty.
“It doesn’t make sense to be in the center because the team has weakened.”
── As a result, you have inherited the JR player’s uniform number.
When I was in high school, I liked Blake Griffin from the Clippers and started to put the number 32, and even the national team kept the number 32 all the time, and the number 6 was simply uncomfortable. I used to like Cristiano Ronaldo when I was playing soccer, so I wanted to get number 7, but in soccer, I had the image that the scorer was number 11, and I was forward and number 11.
I don’t know why, but there is a Roman numeral VI (6). My name is AVI. When referring to one thing in English, A is attached, and Avi = A VI. When I wasn’t deciding on 6, my dad and big brother said, “That’s good.” It’s a retrofit (laughs).
──It’s an interesting root. The uniform number is important for athletes, and I got a glimpse of my readiness by carrying a great uniform number.
I was thinking that if number 32 would be a permanent missing number, number 6 would have been given, but now I will let you. The number 32 is a big number for Mikawa, and now I feel a little more pressure (laughs). However, I feel that the team is expecting that much, so I would like to play as good as my number.
── Davante Gardner, who was named as a difficult player when I interviewed before, became a teammate.
He’s been the top scorer for three consecutive years, and he wants to steal anything he can steal. If you can match up with him from practice, it will be for you. I don’t want to do it, so I don’t mean I can’t join the same team (laughs). I can practice from one practice to another.
── There are scorers representing Gardner, Kanemaru and the league. You used to say that you want to increase your score, but do you feel any difficulty in doing that?
Since I started playing basketball from high school, I have to increase the variations of offense, and I’m not the type who suddenly does 1on1. When there is a gap in the flow of play, I would like to see the gap and drive, or increase such play. The more balls that Gardner and Kanemaru get together, the more the defense will be focused, so it’s good to be able to aim there. Of course I want to be able to do a lot of things, but I think it’s hard for me to become a first option because foreign players are always my opponents.
──I think that if I was in Shiga, where many of the main players were transferred, I might have become my first option. Wasn’t there a conflict?
I think there was a possibility that I could be the first option. But for me, I don’t think it makes sense to be in the center because the team has weakened. For example, I think 5 points and 5 rebounds of the winning team are more valuable than 20 points and 10 rebounds of the lowest team, so I thought that doing something at a higher level would benefit me.
“Even if I have 0 points and 0 rebounds, the team should win”
──The level of ambition is still high. .. After Sakuragi, will 4th be the main?
I love competition (laughs). I think that it will change depending on who you are other foreign nationals and who you are with. I’m also practicing 3 point shoots and I’m preparing to be able to play either 5th or 4th.
However, I think that the current basket is the same for 4th and 5th, and in that sense, I am not particular about position. I want to become a player who can finish from 3 to 5 eventually. I especially want to be able to protect the third player. If that happens, even if you’re on the 5th offense, you’ll have a speed mismatch, and you’ll be able to do it with a small basket.
Of course it is important to be under the goal, and I think that is my role. It’s not that big compared to overseas players, so the representatives say (Yamura) Rou, (Watanabe) Yuta-san, and ideally I should be able to protect it even if I switch 3-5.
── That’s a fun team. Last season, he said he was “first year of his career” by playing time. What kind of new season do you want to have in Mikawa?
As the Olympics will be held next year, we are aiming to grow first. Last season I was only thinking about gaining play time and gaining experience and growing. I didn’t know how much my play would affect the results, but I’ve gradually become aware of it and I want to be a player who can win the team.
Last year I was depressed if I didn’t score, and when I got a score I was happy and obsessed with the stats, but Mikawa is particular about winning and losing. Even if I have 0 points and 0 rebounds, I would like to continue with the feeling that the team should win.
── Finally, please give a message to the fans.
At first, I think it may be an unaided audience, or there may be restrictions. It’s hard for me to play in front of my fans, but I’m hoping to be encouraged to see them fighting online even at times like this.
The scale will be bigger, but I think humans have overcome all the difficulties so far, so I think that in the end it will be possible to beat Corona and play in a packed arena. I’d like you to support me as much as I can, and I will play as much as I can on my back, so please continue to support me!