Guard would be first Japanese-born player

Updated: September 7, 2004, 3:33 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns signed Japanese guard Yuta Tabuse on Tuesday.

Tabuse, who was waived after spending training camp with the Denver Nuggets last year, hopes to become the first Japanese-born player to make the NBA. He appeared in three games with the Nuggets in the preseason, averaging 3.0 points and 2.7 assists in 7.3 minutes.

"He has a great feel for the game and pushes the ball up the floor extremely well. He really has the ability to electrify an audience," said Bryan Colangelo, Suns president and general manager.

The Yokohama, Japan, native participated in two summer leagues for the Suns.

Tabuse said in a news conference in Tokyo that he was pleased at the opportunity to make the team.

"I am very happy that I was able to sign. But as I said, this is just the starting line, and I know that this is the real beginning. I would like to continue to stay focused," Tabuse said.

The 5-foot-9 Tabuse played two seasons at Brigham Young-Hawaii, and he doesn't consider his height to be a disadvantage.

"I've been playing basketball all my life with guys bigger than myself, and I'm used to that," Tabuse said.

Tabuse, 23, was scheduled to arrive in Phoenix next week.

Japan's Yasutaka Okayama was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 1981, but didn't join the team.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press