May 24, 2024

No, you don't need height to dominate in basketball and 5-foot-6 Yuki Togashi is proof

No, you don
Spitfire guard Yuki Togashi led an all-powerful Chiba Jets offense to an 8-0 sweep to win the EASL title. Art by Mitzi Solano/One Sports
Probably more than any other team sport, size matters in the game of basketball.

 

Consider the very true greats in the game, even without naming any names, most of them are an elite combination of size, power, skill, and smarts.

 

But the true greats are what they are because they are like that, true greats. Special, if you will. Superhuman, if you're willing to go that far. But it doesn’t mean that us mere mortals cannot excel in a game that at its core is about putting a ball through a hoop to score points.

 

In the recently-concluded East Asia Super League, one man stood tall in proving that you do not have to be a demigod to dominate basketball.

 

 

Spitfire guard Yuki Togashi led an all-powerful Chiba Jets offense to an 8-0 sweep to win the EASL title, capping their championship run with a pair of dazzling games for the Final Four weekend at the Hoops Dome.

 

FIBA lists Togashi as a mere 5’6” and even that seems generous once you see him up close and in person. Still, Yuki commands such a presence that opponents were wary of his arrival in Lapu-Lapu City.

 

Basketball brothers Joseph and Jeremy Lin were in agreement that Togashi was the “head of the snake” in the whole Chiba operation, and even that knowledge couldn’t do anything to stop him.

 

 

 

Yuki torched the New Taipei Kings to the tune of 28 points in Chiba’s semifinal win in the EASL, prompting very interesting post-game answers.

 

“It doesn’t matter the size. As with today, probably the best players on each team were the smallest ones, so size is overrated,” Chiba coach John Patrick said, to a question posed by a member of the foreign media.

 

Coach Patrick, a seasoned international coach with stints in Germany and Japan, does note the importance of bigger players, especially in the Asian setting. But mostly in today’s game, physicality almost always has to come with shooting to be truly effective.

[Related: B.League star Yuki Togashi relishes "Linsanity," local love in EASL Final Four in Lapu-Lapu]

And as a skill, shooting does not discriminate whether you are seven feet tall or measured at 167 centimeters.

Among active players within the EASL community, Yuki Togashi is arguably the best representation of size being “overrated” when it comes to basketball success.

 

Through the March 6 B.League games, right before Chiba went to Lapu-Lapu for the EASL, Togashi is sitting at 999 career three-pointers made in the B1 regular season, which leads the league all-time. He has played 414 regular season games.

 

 

 

In his eight seasons in the B.League, he has six seasons making at least 100 triples, with a career-high of 175. In the EASL Final Four weekend, Togashi converted 10 triples in the two games, certainly a key driving force for the Jets’ sweep.

 

 

 

“When I coached in Europe, we won a European championship and everyone was under 6’4” so I really believe in modern basketball it has to do with skill and stamina,” coach Patrick said, in a separate interview after the Jets beat South Korea's Seoul SK Knights for the EASL title, a game where Togashi played 37 minutes being hounded by a taller defender. He finished with a game-high 24 points, 12 in the fourth quarter.

 

“Speed kills more than height. Yuki has showed that this whole season. For sure, we don’t make any excuses because we are smaller,” he added.

 

“Speed kills” is the key phrase from coach Patrick, as it’s something that should be familiar with Filipino sports fans.

 

“Speed kills” used to be mostly associated to Manny Pacquiao, whose stature didn’t exactly limit him on his way to winning boxing world titles in eight divisions.

 

Being smaller in the world of sport shouldn’t be a death sentence. While it’s true that you can’t teach height, one can train to run faster and shoot better.

 

If it has to come to a point that we have to look at a Japanese ace guard for inspiration to further our own drive for greatness, then so be it. In FIBA and EASL games, Yuki Togashi is and always will be a rival. Bu the point of the EASL is to not only increase the competition, but foster a community through basketball.

 

So if someone like Togashi wins, we all do. And fans from Lapu-Lapu seemed to quickly pick up on that notion, showering the small but skilled guard with adulation during his quick visit, making sure he knew that he was most valuable.

 

And Yuki heard the applause.

 

“Everywhere we go, there was a lot of support, a lot of cheers,” Yuki said, via his team’s translator.

 

“It’s not what [I] did, it’s maybe the environment that everybody loves basketball. It’s not only [myself], but the I think it’s the whole atmosphere that created the environment,” he added.

 

Togashi could be too humble to admit it himself, but his game is doing all the talking for the Chiba Jets, in the B.League and in the East Asia Super League. So no, you don’t need height to dominate in basketball.

 

All 5’6” of Yuki Togashi is proof of that.