May Contain Spoilers
This volume, like the previous one, focuses on an small sliver of time in the second half of the no holds barred game between Nationals champions, Sannoh, and the upstart Shohoku team. The action covers a little more than three minutes of game play, and what glorious three minutes they were! After Hanamichi’s bold entrance back into the game, the entire team has a lot to live up to.
Rukawa has been completely shut down by Sawakita. Like Rukawa, Sawakita is Sannoh’s ace, and Rukawa can not ignore the challenge his rival represents. Since Rukawa, like Hanamichi, is focused on his own success, and not so much the rest of the team’s, he just can’t find a way to break through the wall that is Sawakita. Rukawa is a skilled player, but going toe to toe with Sawakita? He gets his butt handed to him. Handily.
I appreciated Sawakita’s back story. His father is a huge basketball fan, and he helped groom his son into the player he is. Since he was four years old, Sawakita had played one on one against his dad, always losing, but never giving up against the much taller and stronger adult. Then one day, Sawakita stopped losing. And that is part of his frustration with the game. Like Rukawa, he wants to go to America, because there is no real challenge for him in Japan. But now that he’s faced with Rukawa, he can enjoy one last exhilarating game. But he taunts that Rukawa will never be able to beat him.
This was a fun volume, because Hanamichi gets Shokoku back in the game, once again more through accident than through skill. Rukawa has to save Hanamichi’s big play, and that starts to open a door that had looked closed, with the team trailing by a massive 20 points.
Grade: 4.25 stars
Review copy borrowed from my local library
About the book:
The best-selling series from Eisner-nominated Takehiko Inoue, one of Japan’s greatest manga creators.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?
With seven minutes left in the second half, Shohoku slowly chips away at Sannoh’ s large lead thanks to Sakuragi’s rebounds. But Sannoh’s star player Sawakita isn’t going to sit still for that! Faced with an apparently unstoppable opponent, Rukawa and Sakuragi both have to dig deep to understand themselves and their own game, and become the basketball players they were meant to be!