JAPANESE basketball club Shiga Lakestars has re-signed 26-year-old Zimbabwe international power forward Julian Mavunga for another season after an impressive debut campaign in the Western Conference of the second tier Japanese league last season. BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The former Miami University basketball star, who enjoyed a superb debut season in Japan after joining the club from Sigal Prishtina in Kosovo, confirmed his contract extension with Shiga Lakestars on his Instagram page.
“Number 32 [his jersey number at Shiga Lakestars] is going back to Japan next season!!! Same team. Same last name on the back of the jersey! Excited to play in the new [season].
Mavunga, who has also had stints in the US, Ukraine, Italy and Israel, was Shiga Lakestars’ leading points’ scorer last season, averaging an impressive 19.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game in 53 Japanese appearances.
His consistency saw him earning post season All-Japanese honours in the second tier league to carry on from his brilliant run from Sigal Prishtina, who he helped win the Kosovo Super League title while also reaching the Kosovo Cup final.
Prior to the move to Japan, Mavunga also played nine matches for Sigal Prishtina in Balkan League where he had 10.2ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.3apg and 1.0spg with his contributions helping the team win the Balkan League championship.
A former national title winner with Ironi Nahariya in Israel, Mavunga had been earmarked to represent Zimbabwe for the first time at the Afrobasket Championship held in Tunisia.
He, however, suffered an injury ahead of the continental championships, where he could have teamed up with compatriots such as Bayern Munchen star Vitalis Chikoko — the only other Zimbabwean playing top level basketball.
Mavunga, who was born in Mutare, attended Blakiston Primary School in the capital before relocating with his family to the US where he proceeded to Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, Indiana and later Miami University for his tertiary education.
His sister Stephanie, who is on a scholarship at Ohio State University, is also a top basketball player and last year made her debut for the senior USA women’s basketball team at the Pan American Games in Canada.