Hirokazu Ibata to manage Japan at Asian Series and WBSC Premier12 2024
12/10/2023 1 Minute Read

Hirokazu Ibata to manage Japan at Asian Series and WBSC Premier12 2024

The former NPB star infielder served on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics coaching staff and managed the U-12 National Team in consecutive World Cups in 2022 and 2023.

Samurai Japan have promoted U-12 National Team manager Hirokazu Ibata to the top managerial job in the programme. Ibata will lead Japan at the forthcoming Asian Championship and will be the manager through to the WBSC Premier12 2024.

Born in 1975, Ibata starred as the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) second baseman from 1998 to 2013, leading them to a 2007 Japan Series title. The same year, he was honoured as the Asia Series MVP.

He earned seven Gold Gloves and was an eight-time All-Star. He played the final two years of his career for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants and joined their coaching staff after retirement.

Ibata also coached under Atsunori Inaba at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

He managed Samurai Japan in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup 2022 and 2023.

"I'll pour everything I have into it and serve with all my strength to honour my debt to Japanese baseball," said Ibata during a press conference.

Pitching coach Kazuki Yoshimi served on Ibata's U-12 National Team coaching staff, and Makoto Kaneko will be the bench coach. The rest of the staff includes Yoshinori Murata, Eishin Bon and Yoshiyuki Kamei.

The Asian Baseball Championship is scheduled from 16 to 19 November at the Tokyo Dome. Japan will face Chinese Taipei, Korea and Australia.

The WBSC Premier12 is scheduled from 10 to 24 November 2024.

Samurai Japan run the baseball programme at the top of the WBSC Men's Baseball World Rankings. Their winning streak includes the WBSC Premier12 2019, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup 2022 and the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2023.