Japan Men's Basketball Team Hires 1st Female Head Coach

A Japanese American woman became the first female head coach in the history of Japan's professional men's basketball league on Thursday.

Natalie Nakase, who has experience as a head coach of a women's team in Germany, was hired by the Saitama Broncos.

She replaces American coach Dean Murray, who was fired earlier Thursday for what the team said was a violation of his contract.

"I know these aren't the best circumstances in which to be hired," Nakase said on the team's official website. "But I will do everything possible to get the job done. There is a lot of talent on this team."

The 31-year-old Nakase was an assistant last season under former NBA coach Bob Hill for Tokyo Apache of the same league. In her playing career, she was at UCLA from 1999-2003 and spent four seasons in the now-defunct National Women's Basketball League.

The Broncos are seventh in the 10-team Eastern Conference with a 5-7 record.