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Preview: Nagasaki Cats will need sharp claws vs. the Kyoto Red Foxes in today’s Sanrio Championship game

With the finals series tied 2-2, it’s a winner-take-all situation for the Cats and Red Foxes. With Aggretsuko averaging a double-double in the finals for the Red Foxes, Hello Kitty and the Cats will have their paws packed.

PUMA x Hello Kitty Launch Event At Shoe Palace LA
Hello Kitty of the Nagasaki Cats poses for photographs and signs autographs for adoring fans at a PUMA event in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 2, 2018.
Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for PUMA

When the final buzzer sounds on this afternoon’s Sanrio Championship game featuring the 12-0 Nagasaki Cats and the 11-1 Kyoto Red Foxes, one team will become the most decorated in Sanrio League history. But the big question is how the Red Foxes can reclaim their mojo to seal the deal.

Behind Aggretsuko’s 25 points and 14 rebounds in the finals, the Red Foxes took a 2-0 series lead rather easily — winning Game 1 by 12 points (after leading by as many as 21) and taking Game 2 by 9 points. The Red Foxes were poised to sweep the Cats, 3-0, to win the game and their fifth title — their second straight, and most in Sanrio League history. But with Kyoto up seven points late in the third quarter, Aggretsuko suffered an injury to her left paw that forced her to the bench.

The Red Foxes climbed back into the contest, the Cats struggled to regroup and Hello Kitty scored a series-high 38 points in Nagasaki’s Game 3 win. Before Game 4, Hello Kitty said she was only about 75 percent, but trusted her teammates — especially sharpshooting guards Melodie and Keroppi — to pick up the slack, which they did.

The Cats eked past the Foxes with a three-point win.

So, can the Nagasaki Cats ride this momentum to their fifth Sanrio League title?

The franchise last won it all in 2014. But a team rebuild following that win brought in some defensive help for Aggretsuko — namely, Badtz-Maru, who was just named the Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year behind league-leading 15 rebounds and 4 blocks per game. And veteran Kuromi is shooting an unbelievable 85 percent from three-point range — nixing all rumors about it being time for her to retire.

With these powerhouse teams, anything can happen because both have the pieces and talent to win. Therefore, it’s either team’s Monkichi Trophy to lose.

Game information

Nagasaki Cats (12-0) vs. Kyoto Red Foxes (11-1)

The finals series is tied, 2-2.

When: Monday, Apr. 1, at 3:00 p.m. ET

Where: Nagasaki Prefecture General Gymnasium, Peace Park, Nagasaki, Japan

How to watch: Marumofubiyori TV