Though the bj-league hasn’t figured out how to make itself relevant to the nation’s mass media on a consistent basis (that’s a topic for another day), the Kansai rivalry between the Kyoto Hannaryz and Shiga Lakestars, as evidenced by 3,000-plus fans packed into cozy Shiga Prefectural Gymnasium on Sunday, have proved is flourishing.

Much-improved Japanese players and talented foreigners — at age 42 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is still a steady contributor for Kyoto — make the game something fans are thrilled to follow.

And years from now people here will still be saying, “I saw Abdul-Rauf play games in Japan.” Really.