May Contain Spoilers
After surviving their first contest in the Nationals by the skin of their teeth, Shohoku is facing last year’s champs, Sannoh. Coach Anzai shows the team tapes from last year, and suddenly, the Shohoku players realize what a miracle it will be for them to beat this team. Sannoh has three elite players with Nationals experience, and this year’s team is rumored to be better than last year’s. Everyone but Sakuragi is consumed with self-doubt. Are they good enough to beat this monster team?
You have to love Hanamichi. He is the only one, with his enormously inflated ego, who isn’t having doubts about his abilities. In Hanamichi’s head, he really is the best player on the team, maybe even in all Japan, and he has no doubts about that. That is what makes Slam Dunk such a fun read. Hanamichi, an average player at best, who still doesn’t fully understand all of the rules of the game, is driven by a confidence that propels him to make great plays. He is all bluster, but when the chips are down, he somehow makes good on his boasts. I love how he can make a complete fool of himself on one page as he attempts to show off and prove that he’s the cock of the rock, and then, a few pages later, he pulls off a game changing play. I’ve said it before: I wish I had half of Hanamichi’s self-confidence.
Anzai had debated showing the tapes to his team, because he knew that they would see the difference in their playing ability. What he’s so good at, though, is reading his guys. He knows just what to say to each of the starters to get them to change from doubting their skills, to embracing them and acknowledging that they can play on a level playing field with last year’s Nationals champions.
Though I thought parts of this volume where a tad slow, it quickly redeemed itself with the start of the game. I think that as a reader of the series I have been programmed to expect pages and pages of high energy basketball, and when it’s not there, I get a little impatient. Also, since we are grinding away towards the end of the series, I am eager to see what happens, and that’s something that will be decided on the basketball court.
Grade: 4 stars
Review copy borrowed from my local library
About the book:
Winning isn’t everything in the game of basketball, but who wants to come in second? It takes dedication and discipline to be the best, and the Shohoku High hoops team wants to be just that. They have one last year to make their captain’s dream of reaching the finals come true—will they do it?
After watching a video of Sannoh’s semifinal game from the previous year, the Shohoku players, except Sakuragi of course, are feeling nervous—three of Sannoh’s starters this year played on that championship team. To make things worse, the stands are filled with Sannoh supporters eager to see their favorite rack up an easy win against Shohoku. But Coach Anzai’s been here before and he knows his players, instructing them to lead off with a surprise attack that lets Sannoh know that Shohoku’s in the house, and they aren’t going out without a fight!