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  InterBasket > Player Profiles > Yuta Tabuse, Japan His impressive showings in two summer leagues for the Suns (4.2 ppg, 2.1 apg) came on the heels of a stint with the ABA Champion Long Beach Jam where he averaged 5.3 points and led the team in assists with 6.3... In 2003, Tabuse attended the Denver Nuggets training camp before being waived prior to the start of the season.

YutaTabuse Profile

Name: Yuta Tabuse (You-TA Ta-BOO-say)

Postion: Point Guard
Born: 10/05/1980
Status: Active
Origin: Yokohama, Japan
Height: 5-9/1,73cm
Weight: 165 lbs./75kg.
Schools: Brigham Young-Hawaii '02
Drafted: Undrafted
Languages: Japanese, English
Website: InterBasket
Teams (jersey): BYU-Hawaii, Long Beach Jam, Phoenix Suns (1), Los Angeles Clippers (1)
IBN Facts: Signed by the Los Angeles Clippers previous to the 2005-06 NBA season, Yuta Tabuse was already a star in Japan where he started playing basketball at the age of 8 years old. Yuta molded his game after his favorite basketball players Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas. Yuta Tabuse became the first Japanese-born player to play in the NBA after being signed by the Suns in September 2004.

From our forum:  Is Tabuse A Marketing Strategy?  Japan Basketball Forum  Article(s): Yuta Tabuse Photo Gallery

Phoenix pioneer not just a novelty By Liz Robbins
THE NEW YORK TIMES November 14, 2004

One quiet Saturday morning in New Jersey, 7,000 miles from an alter ego appearing on television dribbling basketballs for beer or gas or shoes, Yuta Tabuse was just a gardener's son playing a game.

Practicing next to him on the court at Continental Arena, his Phoenix Suns teammates Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire and even Steve Nash towered over him. Tabuse, listed at 5 feet 9 inches but closer to 5-7, had become the first Japanese-born player in the NBA.

A lightning-quick third-string point guard, Tabuse made brief appearances in two of the Suns' first three games before Phoenix put him on the injured list with a strained quadriceps in order to add forward Bo Outlaw.

But Tabuse's No. 1 jersey continues to sell, marketing opportunities for the Suns are developing and their Web site feeds the frenzy of Japanese interest.

"I want to be the pioneer for Japanese people," Tabuse, 24, said last week in New Jersey. "I just want to keep playing hard. I want to play for myself."

The last goal seems a tall order. The news media and potential advertisers have tracked Tabuse (pronounced Ta-BOO-say) since he led his high school in Yokohoma to three national titles. Since then, he has been followed to Division II Brigham Young-Hawaii, to his Rookie of the Year season in the Japan Super League, to his preseason stint in Denver last year, and to a season in which his team, the Long Beach Jam, won the American Basketball Association title.

Thirty-three reporters from Japan were in Phoenix for opening night Nov. 3 as Tabuse scored seven points in 10 minutes in a 30-point rout of Atlanta. It was a media blitz usually reserved for baseball stars like Ichiro Suzuki. Tabuse made the front page of the major daily newspapers in Japan.

"The guy can play, he's not a novelty," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's a great story, and it's something we can all get caught up in. But we don't keep him because he's a great story."

Although the Suns insist that Tabuse is not on the team for marketing purposes, it does not hurt the team or the league when such opportunities arise, in Phoenix and in Japan.

In Japan, television stations want to broadcast more Suns games, said Hideki Hayashi, NBA Japan's managing director, who said Tabuse was photogenic and had an easy-going personality.

Tabuse played baseball growing up but said he never found real joy as a catcher. In 1988, when he was 7, he watched Magic Johnson and the "Showtime" Lakers outshine the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals and was hooked.

After not losing a game in high school, Tabuse was steered to the United States by someone who had an affiliation with Nike, said BYU-Hawaii's coach, Ken Wagner. Tabuse red-shirted the first year, spent the second recovering from back surgery, then helped the team to a 19-10 record in 2001-02. Tabuse averaged 7.6 points and a league-leading 6.5 assists a game.

Wagner recalled how a Japanese telephone company showed up at the university unannounced to shoot a commercial with Tabuse, only to be turned away because of NCAA rules.

Wagner said he expected Tabuse to leave early for a professional opportunity, but he said Tabuse might have developed into a better shooter had he played one more season in Hawaii.

After trying out with Dallas, then being cut by Denver before the season last year, Tabuse has impressed the Suns with his work ethic and his quickness in getting the ball upcourt.

"He's a good decision-maker, a great passer," Nash said.

D'Antoni said, "It's about him getting confidence and him having a presence on the court and not letting his rookie-ness, his height and his novelty affect him in any way."