This feature led off one of the B. League weekly notebooks in The Japan Times in March 2018.
Alvark guard Seiya Ando developing into a star
By Ed Odeven
When Seiya Ando left the Akita Northern Happinets last summer to join the Alvark Tokyo for the 2017-18 campaign, it was an intriguing move to follow.
Nothing has changed.
Ando’s development as a young, on-the-rise star has been a key aspect of the Alvark’s successful season.
An energetic, aggressive playmaker, Ando has fit in well with the new-look Alvark as first-year bench boss Luka Pavicevic put his own stamp on the team.
Before he ever played a game for Tokyo, Ando expressed his outlook this way: “I would like to devote full effort in every game to win.”
Indeed, he has been one of the tone-setting players for the Alvark, who are 31-11 and tied with the Chiba Jets Funabashi for the top record in the six-team East Division.
The 25-year-old offensive quarterback is averaging 9.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists for the title-chasing Alvark.
A season ago, he averaged 10.6, 4.5 and 3.0.
He’s displayed a mental toughness to go along with his solid all-around skills. A recent fractured cheek bone sent Ando to the sideline for a few games and caused him to miss a month of practices. He’s scored in double figures in three of the last four games, including two 17-point outputs, one shy of his season-best total.
A maturing player, Ando is showing signs of reaching the top echelon of Japanese points guards in the league.
By all accounts, consistency will be a key to make it happen.
Teammate Jawad Williams is pleased with the impact Ando is making for the club.
After Sunday’s 75-67 victory over the visiting Sunrockers Shibuya, Williams said, “Seiya is our floor general. He’s a very good player in transition, in halfcourt. He creates a lot of (scoring opportunities) for us. My last 3 (a key fourth-quarter basket for Tokyo) that I hit was solely because of him. I remember telling him at halftime, ‘I won’t miss another one.’ He was able to find me and I made it.”
Has Ando grown in confidence since the team came together for preseason training?
“Yeah, I think he’s more comfortable,” said Williams, a former NBA player. “When you play for a coach like the coach we have, he’s tough, it’s a different style of basketball . . . and Seiya’s adjusting to the way he wants him to play. I think it showed in this game he’s definitely one of the better guards here in the league.”
Analyzing the way the Tokyo native managed the shot clock and set up his teammates with passes in the series finale on Sunday, Pavicevic gave this assessment to reporters: “Well, to be honest, Seiya has space to improve in his decision making and his decision planning and especially in prior to making those decisions.
“But how can I say it? Seiya is the motor of this team, but not only in the game but on the practice (court), and sometimes even if he doesn’t recognize how, he wins the game by pure will…”