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"The Hard Play" is the seventy fifth chapter in Ahiru no Sora.

Chapter Summary

Saijo High Enters the Inter-High Preliminaries Venue

Kuzuryu High changes their team’s lineup. Sora becomes the point guard, Kaname takes the center's role, and Momoharu switches his position from a center to power forward. The timeout finishes, and Takahashi, on seeing Kaname, changes his team’s lineup, as well. Shinjo Towa Academy currently leads the match. Meanwhile, both teams are engaged in their intense showdown. The powerhouse Saijo High enters the Inter-High Preliminaries venue. Everyone on the court notices their presence, and one of the people in the crowd states that he thought Saijo High didn’t have a match today. A focused Fujita and his teammates eagerly watch who will be their second-round opponent. Sora tries to regain his composure on adapting to the role of the point guard. Nao urges Masahiro to check his surroundings when receiving the ball from his teammates. She then reminds Sora of the shot clock and urges him not to keep possession of the ball for too long. Sora, while dribbling, tells himself that trying to attempt three-pointers is meaningless if his teammates cannot get through zone defense.

A serious Takahashi guards Kaname. Sora passes the ball to him. Takahashi, while defending, comments that due to Kaname’s minor muscular physique, he doesn’t look like a center who has a lot of power or strength. The people in the crowd praises Kaname for his tall presence. After passing the ball to Kaname, Sora praises his teammate and comments that he believes that Kaname has the skills to pass through Shinjo Towa’s zone defense. Kenji tries to position himself inside the paint area. Roku is carefully guarding him, and on Takahashi’s advice, focuses on his adversary's movements and manages to keep up to pace with Kenji. Kaname then positions himself for his signature skyhook shot. Shinmaruko High and Saijo High notices Kaname’s unique style of scoring. Takahashi notices and efficiently blocks him. Nabe and Yasuhara are shocked and comments that it is their first time seeing someone block Kaname’s skyhook shot. Masahiro tries to grab the loose ball, and it goes out of bounds. The referee sounds the whistle and indicates it is Shinjo Towa’s ball possession. Then he changes his mind and notifies that the basket will count because number 4, Shinjo Towa, committed a violation. Everyone in the crowd questions the referee’s decision. Chiba tells his teammate that it is goaltending. Goaltending is a violation in basketball that involves touching or deflecting a ball that is on its downward path toward the basket.

Kaname, being amazed by his adversary attempt at blocking his skyhook shot, comments to Takahashi that he will not be able to stop his hook shot. A serious Takahashi stares at Kaname and states that the freshman is trying to provoke him on purpose. Nao then explains to a confused Yasuhara and says that the ball's trajectory from Kaname’s hand was going in the descending direction when Takahashi blocked it. In concluding, Nao comments that theoretically speaking, it is nearly impossible for someone to stop Kaname’s skyhook shot. Momoharu praises his teammate, Kaname, for his efforts and comments that their newbie team member might look docile from his looks, but he is a sneaky and clever individual. Shijo Towa Academy is unfazed by the violation, and a determined Ruko quickly evades Masahiro's defense. He then passes it to Kazushi, who then easily scores the layup. The score is 31 to 28. A confused Masahiro looks at his teammates. Kaname urges his senior to forget about his recent mistake and encourages him to regain his composure.

Kaname Shigeyoshi Skyhook Shot

Sora, while dribbling, talks to himself and states that when Kaname creates an opening for them on offence, they have to avail that opportunity to score. Being a bit confused and undecided at the moment, Sora gives a sloppy pass to Kaname. Shinjo Towa’s member touches the, and it goes out of bounds. The referee sounds the whistle and indicates that it is Kuzuryu High’s possession. The people in the crowd critique Sora’s decision-making. As Sora is about to throw in the ball, Kaname encourages him not to worry and comments that he is not alone, and he has his teammates along who share the same goal with him. Sora smiles at Kaname, and he thanks him for the words of encouragement. Nao urges her squad to pass the ball around until the zone defense crumbles. Takahashi instructs his teammates to raise their hands higher to stop Kuzuryu High from making high passes and further tells his teammates that the skyhook shot is meaningless unless Kaname is near the basketball hoop. In concluding, Takahashi urges his squad that they just have to prevent Kaname from entering the inside area. In a spur of the moment, Sora shoots the three-pointer. Kojima sees it and comments that the little guy used the same scoring approach as his friend Takahashi. However, the ball rotates around the rim. Takahashi and Kaname position themselves for the rebound. Momoharu grabs it before them and gives it to Masahiro, who then passes it to Kenji. A confident Kenji quickly passes his adversary's defense and scores. It’s a one-point difference, and the score is 30 to 31. Kuzuryu High is slowly catching up, and on seeing his teammate score, Sora encourages himself and comments that Kaname is correct, that he is not alone. He has his teammates along with him who are also aiming to win the match.

Characters

Reference

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