First female coach in Japan pro league aims for NBA -

TOKYO -- Natalie Nakase knows there's more to her job than winning games. The American is the first female coach in Japan's professional men's basketball league.

Nakase was hired by the Saitama Broncos last November after the previous American coach was fired for a violation of his contract.

Nakase's appointment was considered something of a breakthrough in Japan. The 31-year-old Los Angeles native says she's happy to give women encouragement to take on new roles.

The 5-foot-2 Nakase was an all-conference point guard at UCLA from 1999-2003. She played in the National Women's Basketball League for four seasons on teams in San Jose and San Diego.

She's coached a women's team in Germany and was an assistant under former NBA coach Bob Hill for the Tokyo Apache last season.

Her next goal is to become an assistant in the NBA.

21 Feb, 2012

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