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Japan All-Star Game wraps up with 7,357 fans in attendance

The B.League All-Star Game concluded with a full house of 7,357 spectators.

The B.League All-Star Weekend 2024 in Okinawa was held from December 12-14 at the Okinawa Arena in Okinawa City, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. The B.League designated the period as All-Star Week and filled it with three-point shooting, dunk contests, event matches between Asian All-Stars and Japanese rising stars, and more.

The interest of Japanese basketball fans in the All-Star Game was remarkable. Online ticket sales sold out within minutes of opening. Some fans were unable to purchase tickets because the server was down. The B.League even sold standing room only to ensure that as many fans as possible could enjoy the All-Star Game. As a result, the All-Star Game was held in front of a sold-out crowd of 7,357 fans.

On the 14th, the day the game was scheduled, fans milled around the Okinawa Arena four hours before tipoff. Lines formed at club shops to purchase All-Star merchandise. Merchandise from popular players such as Yuki Kawamura (Yokohama) and Makoto Hiejima (Utsunomiya) were sold out early and unavailable. The jerseys were expensive at 18,000 yen (about $160,000), but fans were willing to open their wallets.

A B.League official at the event said, “Merchandise for popular players sells really fast. However, some of the merchandise is left in stock, but it’s still quite profitable because it’s expensive.”

When it was time for the game to start, the opening act took place. Colorful lights and sounds filled the gym. The band 10-Feet came out and sang “Dai Zero Kan,” which is well known from the OST of the movie The First Slam Dunk. The Japanese fans sang along, adding to the excitement. Cheers erupted when Keita Imamura, Ryuichi Kishimoto, and Jack Cooley of the Ryukyu Golden Kings, who call Okinawa Arena home, were introduced.

In the All-Star Game, B.WHITE defeated B.BLACK in a close game, 128-123. It was an evenly matched performance, with nine players scoring in double figures, including Perrin Buford (19 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and Yuki Togashi (17 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists). B.BLACK was led by Kishimoto (24 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists) and Josh Hawkinson (15 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists) in a losing effort.

Kishimoto took home the fan-voted MVP award. Kishimoto received a whopping 85% of the vote, beating out Kawamura, Hawkinson, and Buford. Kishimoto was awarded 1 million yen (about $9 million) in prize money.

As an all-star game, wins and losses don’t mean much. The All-Stars dazzled fans with a variety of performances and tricks. The event was overwhelming in scale and ended with a bang in front of a sold-out crowd of 7,357.

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