May Contain Spoilers
Volume 12 starts the game with Kainan, a team that’s made it to Nationals an amazing 16 years in a row. Kiyota and Hanamichi immediately hit it off. I’m kidding – they immediately almost come to blows. Kiyota is as brash and overly confident as Hanamichi, and he brags that he, not Rukawa, is the rookie of the year. But we all know that Hanamichi is certain that he the rookie of the year, as well as the rebound king and he is a basketball genius. I enjoyed their preening, and found it even more amusing when Rukawa, who pretty much never lets anything get to him, has to add his two cents. It’s going to be one heck of a game!
Hanamichi makes a grave error just before tipoff. He honestly responds to Kainan’s coach when he asks how long he’s played basketball. Now Coach Takato has a weapon to use against Hanamichi. As Hanamichi pushes himself to make bigger and more impressive plays, Takato subs in Miyamasu, a smaller, slower, frail looking player. Looks can be deceiving, however, and Miya has worked hard to keep his spot on the team. He’s never played in a game, but heck, they’ve never needed him like they need him now. Miya is given one instruction – Provoke Hanaimichi as much as possible, but do nothing defensive. Nothing! Uh oh, this looks like trouble.
Everyone, naturally, under-estimates Miyamasu. Because he looks like a pencil neck, he gets no respect. He quickly shows Shohoku the error of their ways. Miya is a fantastic shooter, and because he doesn’t look like all that, nobody covers him on shots. At first. Talk about a mistake! Since Hanamichi’s play as gone completely to hell, he quickly finds himself warming the bench. Seems that Coach Takato discovered his weakness – Hanamichi needs to be pushed to excel, and if he’s covered by a guy who does nothing to challenge him, he can’t do anything right. Arg!
This volume was frustrating. Hanamichi has somehow become a crucial cog in the Shohoku machine, and his inability to get anything done is hurting the team. Akagi can’t even get their motor running again. I know Rukawa will step up in the next volume, but gosh! The tension as the score gets away from Shohoku. Ouch! And why, why, why haven’t they had Hanamichi practice free throws?? Why???
Grade: 4.25 stars
Review copy borrowed from my local library
About the book:
The final four teams that will play in the round-robin tournament have been decided, and Shohoku’s one of them. However, Shohoku’s next opponent is Kainan, and they’re known as the “Kings” for good reason-they’ve made it to Nationals 16 years in a row. Ever since he joined Shohoku, Akagi has dreamed of playing Kainan. His wish is about to come true, but is it one he’ll soon be regretting?