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Basketball: Japan guard Hiejima to join Brisbane in Australia's NBL

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- Makoto Hiejima is set to become the first Japan international to play in Australia's National Basketball League just months after being a key contributor to the Boomers' first loss in two years.

The NBL says Hiejima, the MVP in Japan's national competition, will report for pre-season training later this month with the Brisbane Bullets, where he will work with Bullets and Australian Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis.

The 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) Hiejima will join the Brisbane club after spending five seasons with the Sea Horses in Japan.

He helped Japan to a one-point win over Lemanis' Australia national team in FIBA qualifier in June.

"What he is doing is courageous -- the change of culture, testing yourself in a new environment with the added challenge of the language barrier," Lemanis said. "I'm excited about what he will bring to the Bullets. He gives us great depth in the guard positions, the opportunity to run different lineups and keep pressure on the whole game. With the condensed nature of our season and the potential disruption from injuries having that depth is important."

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