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"Something to Protect" is the eighty forth chapter in Ahiru no Sora.

Chapter Summary

A cheerful Yuka watches her son

Yuka finally arrives at the tournament venue and cheerfully smiles on seeing her son. Shinjo Towa Academy requests the referee for the timeout. An exhausted and fatigued Kaname approaches his team’s bench. While taking a seat, Kaname losses his balance. Sora then asks his teammate for his well-being. Kaname responds he is alright. Nao requests Yasuhara to participate in the match and subs out Kaname. On seeing his exhausted teammate, Kenji complains that Kaname is a useless individual and cannot participate in the entire match. Kenji further comments that ever since Kaname joined the match, their team gained some serious firepower, which resulted in them establishing a considerable lead. In concluding, Kenji remarks that in these last 7 minutes, if their team continues to perform well, they can indeed win the match.

Yuka sees the scoreboard, judges it incorrectly and comments that Kuzuryu High is sixteen points behind, and it will be tough for her son’s team to close the deficit gap. A confused Madoka looks at her and replies that Sora’s team is leading the match. On hearing, Yuka then praises her son. Madoka and Sakamaki stare at her awkwardly. Sakamaki then reconfirms from Yuka that the number 15 little one at Kuzuryu High is her son. Yuka confirms he is her son. Sakamaki then praises Sora that he has the same shooting sense like her, and further comments that besides Kenji, all other members at Kuzuryu High are amateurs. High school basketball is not that simple. If Sora went to another high school, it would have been difficult for him to attain a starter's position. Sakamaki then politely states that is the harsh reality. Yuka agrees and replies that she never forced her son to play basketball, and he picked up the sport on his own accord. In concluding, Yuka states, whoever wins the match, she is certain Sora will have no regrets.

The timeout finishes both Kuzuryu High and Shinjo Towa Academy, make their way to the court. The onlookers at the venue comment that Kuzuryu High looks to be full of confidence as they subbed out their primary center. On hearing this, Fujita notifies his Saijo High teammates that he is impressed by the efforts of his former junior colleague. On seeing Kaname’s weak physical condition, Fujita believes he will no longer participate in the match. Nao, to keep her team’s morale up, encourages them to keep scoring. Kaname agrees with his manager and states that a sixteen-point lead is nothing but a safety net for their team, and nobody knows what will happen until the match reaches its conclusion. Kazushi passes the ball to his captain, Takahashi. Momoharu tries to stop him, and Takahashi passes the ball to Roku, who then confidently scores the layup shot. Everyone at Shinjo Towa Academy bench celebrate. Nao then urges Yasuhara to keep his eyes on the ball, and she looks at her squad cautiously. Nao further comments that the difference in either team’s strength is starting to show, referring to stamina. No matter what type of harsh training their team has done, it has only been a month. Whereas their opponent, Shinjo Towa Academy, has been practicing for over a year.

Sakamaki and Yuka at the Tournament Venue

Takahashi easily evades Kenji’s defense and passes it to Yukio, who quickly scores the layup shot. Shinjo Towa Academy is slowly closing down the deficit gap. Noa informs Nabe that he will be joining his teammates in the match. Nabe agrees, and he mentally and physically prepares himself by doing some pushup exercises. Chiaki passes the ball to Yasuhara, who tries to score. The ball touches the rim, and Momoharu grabs the rebound. Kuzuryu High somehow manages to regain possession. Nao praises that Momoharu and Kenji are energetic as ever. Chiaki passes the ball to Sora, and he efficiently scores the mid-range shot. On seeing, Yuka becomes excited and praises her son for his efforts. The onlookers applaud Kuzuryu High for maintaining their lead and only four minutes remaining to conclude the match. A frustrated Kazushi curses himself and requests his captain to pass him the ball. Takahashi refuses and urges him to calm himself down. Kazushi doesn’t listen and purposely snatches the ball and furiously goes towards the basketball hoop. Chiaki tries to stop him and notices a change in demeanor and expression in the eyes of Kazushi. Both collide and fall on the court. The referee whistles a technical foul by Kuzuryu High number 7, Chiaki.

Momoharu complains to the referee and urges him to change his decision. The referee indicates it is not a bad call, and Kazushi didn’t touch Chiaki until he hit him on the ground. Sakamaki agrees with the referee’s judgement and states Kazushi didn’t even enter his shooting motion yet. Yuka agrees and says that Chiaki looked confused because his movements while defending stopped for an instant. Yuka further stated that Chiaki didn’t fall to the ground on purpose; in fact, he got scared by his opponent's approach. Momoharu asks his brother for his wellbeing, and Chiaki reassures him that he is alright. On witnessing Chiaki’s fourth foul, Nao substitutes him, and as his replacement, Masahiro joins the match. Kuzuryu High calls for a timeout. The first-year students of Shinjo Towa Academy furiously voice their opinion against Kazushi and complains that what he just did was reckless; this is the last tournament for their two seniors Kojima and Takahashi. Their team is lucky to have the technical foul call in their favor. An angry Takahashi shouts at his freshmen and instructs them to stop complaining, and if they find Kazushi’s recent scoring attempt reckless, they should all kindly quit the team.

Kojima smiles at Takahashi and responds that this is his first time seeing him angry, and further states that Kazushi is different from all of them. He started playing basketball in high school. Kojima further explains that the basic basketball skills he learned back in elementary school are impossible for someone to learn it in just three years. To further expand his opinion, Kojima then notifies his freshmen that when each one of them, after practice, goes to the arcade, the lights of their gym stay on the whole time. The first one who comes to the court to clean and shine the gym is Kazushi. He is a guy who admires one person on their team, referring to Takahashi. Kojima then calls Kazushi a simpleton who spends his entire day practicing vigorously in hopes of catching up to his admirer. In concluding, Kojima assures his freshmen that the one person who dearly cares about victory on their team is non-other than Kazushi. The match resumes, and Takahashi talks to himself and comments that Kazushi's recent technical foul attempt turned the flow of the match in their favor and encourages his squad to score the next basket.

Takahashi praises Kazushi for his recent scoring attempt

Takahashi then quickly positions himself, shoots and scores the three-pointer. Shinjo Towa Academy closes the deficit gap to single digits. The score is 68 to 77. After scoring, Takahashi thanks Kazushi. Sakamaki praises Takahashi for his shooting skills and comments that the three-pointer was a risky decision on his part. If missed, the chance of their victory would have vanished. A depressed Chiaki looks at his teammates and recalls the moment of his junior high when he and Momoharu had a small argument over keeping the lost domestic pet in their household or not. Shinjo Towa Academy continues to gain momentum in the match. Kazushi efficiently grabs the rebound and Yukio then quickly scores the layup. Shinjo Towa Academy has shortened the deficit gap to seven points. A frustrated Momoharu informs his manager that with Chiaki and Kaname subbed out, their team inside defense has weakened. On hearing, Nao urges her squad to hold off the lead for a few minutes before she can let Chiaki join the match.

Characters

Reference

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