This article appears in The Japan Times.
By Ed Odeven
Koh Flippin roams the court with quick steps, impressive overall court awareness and a sense of purpose.
What’s more, the 23-year-old Chiba Jets rookie maximizes his playing time. He’s a force of energy whenever he enters a game.
And with nearly half of the season completed, Flippin’s been a revelation to B. League observers. In fact, Flippin’s natural talent and potential have been on display since the season started.
The 190-cm combo guard, who is of African-American and Japanese descent, is a valuable backup. Appearing in 21 of the team’s 28 games, he’s averaging 5.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.75 steals and roughly 13.4 minutes per game.
In three of Chiba’s last four games, Flippin produced three of his four double-digit scoring games to date. He had 12 points, three rebounds and three steals in the Jets’ 73-65 road win on Saturday over the two-time defending champion Alvark Tokyo. Then he contributed 10 points, three assists and a steal on Sunday in a 72-64 triumph over the Alvark. Against the Niigata Albirex BB on Dec. 28, Flippin sank 3 of 7 3-point attempts in an 11-point effort.
In addition, he had a season-high 17 points with five assists versus the Kyoto Hannaryz on Nov. 3.
“I’m just trying to put together complete games, trying to have more of an impact on the boards, or steals or contributing a few points when I can here or there,” Flippin told The Japan Times after Sunday’s game.
He added: “I just try to make team plays most of the time, and when I can do something to help the team … it just always helps us get into the flow. It just keeps everybody else at ease, so it just feels good to do something like that.”
After back-to-back championship runner-up seasons, the Jets (18-10) are trying to remain in title contention again. Flippin is a key part of that objective.
“I’m not sure how and the whole process of how the young man Flippin’s adjustment went, but all I can say six months later he influenced this weekend a lot,” Alvark coach Luka Pavicevic said after Sunday’s game at Komazawa Olympic Park Gymnasium. “I see him as an important part of Chiba’s roster and his role in these two games gave them a significant impulse to win both games.”
What was that impact?
“If you see both those games, it’s tough to play, it’s tough to move,” Pavicevic said. “Both teams (could) not score easy, so Chiba is scoring easier because we allowed with turnovers them to run and we allowed rebounds with second-chance offense, so they get (points) a little easier.
“But generally the battle, even though we couldn’t score, they couldn’t score on many, many occasions. So if a young player shows up yesterday and today and when things get stuck in the game, they can get unstuck. That’s, for my opinion, a significant impulse.”