"Something to Protect 2" is the eighty fifth chapter in Ahiru no Sora.
Takahashi shoots and scores the three-pointer, and the deficit gap is down to seven points. The score is 70 to 77. Only four minutes remain to conclude the match. Shinjo Towa Academy’s bench eagerly continues to cheer on their teammates. Sora has possession of the ball, and Takahashi urges his teammates to stop Kuzuryu High from scoring and look out for any high passes. Kenji takes a small break in between the fourth quarter. After regaining his strength, Kenji requests Nao to let him join the match. Upon seeing, Kaname also requests his manager and reassures Nao that he has rested long enough and is physically capable of participating. Kaname stands up and quickly falls to the ground. Chiaki, Nao and Kenji stare at him confusingly and urges him to rest. Before joining the match, Kenji informs Nao that he will try his best to hold off his opponents and, in case the point deficit reduces down further, urges Nao not to get confused and let Chiaki and Kaname join the match.
Nao agrees with his suggestion and requests the referee for a member change. Kenji makes his way to the court. Due to his minor left knee injury, Kojima also takes a small break, and after recuperating, he joins. It is Shinjo Towa Academy’s possession of the ball, and Ruko passes the ball to Kojima. Kenji is carefully guarding him, and while defending, Kenji comments that Kaname is indeed a waste of talent. He has impressive defensive and offensive skills, and due to his poor stamina, he can not participate in the entire match. While retrieving the pass from his teammate, Kojima confidently informs Kenji that he must be one of those talented freshmen who skips practice. Upon hearing, Kenji replies not to make unnecessary judgements about him and jokingly nickname Kojima ‘bullseye-san.’ Kojima praises Kenji for being the highest scorer on his team and quickly passes his defense. Momoharu tries to stop him, and Kojima, instead of trying to score, passes the ball to Takahashi, who then gives it to Kazushi. Momoharu tries to stop Kazushi from scoring and gets himself in foul trouble. The referee indicates a defensive foul by number 4 Kuzuryu High. Kazushi then heads towards the free-throw line, and before attempting to shoot, Kazushi recalls the moment when he first enrolled at Shinjo Towa Academy.
Upon his arrival to school, Kazushi, due to his aggressive behavior and candid personality, got into too many fights. One of his classmates urges his colleagues to stay away from him because he is bad news. Kazushi overhears their opinion, ignores them and quietly reads his favorite sports manga in class. Afterwards, Kazushi makes his way to the school’s basketball court and eagerly stares at the basketball hoop. Kojima and Takahashi, accompanied by their middle school students, while entering the court, see him. Kojima politely requests Kazushi if he is interested in joining their team. On noticing all cuts and bruises on Kazushi’s face, one of the middle school students informs Kojima that Kazushi is a troublemaker and he is known at Shinjo Towa for getting into a lot of fights. Upon hearing it, Kazushi politely excuses himself, and while departing, he accidentally bumps into Takahashi and falls to the ground. Takahashi apologizes that he didn’t see him, advises Kazushi to look upfront when he is walking, and tries to help him stand up. Kazushi ignores his assistance, and Takahashi then notices the two manga volumes that fell off from Kazushi’s side pocket is Slam Dunk. Upon seeing it, Takahashi cheerfully requests Kazushi to consider joining their team and further comments that he started playing basketball because of reading the Slam Dunk manga.
At the ongoing intense match between Kuzuryu High and Shinjo Towa Academy, Kazushi misses the first free-throw attempt. Takahashi then urges his teammate to calm himself down, take deep breaths, and everything will be fine. Kazushi follows his captain’s advice and misses the second free throw. Takahashi and Momoharu position themselves for the rebound. Upon seeing his two futile free-throw attempts, Kazushi quietly comments that his high school life would have been useless if he hadn’t met Takahashi at Shinjo Towa Academy. Takahashi's words of encouragement and telling him that he started playing basketball due to reading Slam Dunk inspired him to join the team. Momoharu efficiently grabs the rebound. Frustrated first-year students of Shinjo Towa Academy look at Kazushi and complain that he missed such an excellent opportunity to close the deficit gap. Kojima yells at his teammates to stop Kuzuryu High from scoring. Momoharu quickly tries to pass the ball to his teammate. Yukio jumps to stop him, and the ball collides on his face and goes out of bounds. The referee whistles that it is Kuzuryu High’s possession of the ball. Everyone in the court are shocked as to what they just witnessed. Yasuhara informs Nabe that Yukio took Momoharu’s full-strength pass on his face, and that must have hurt a lot. Takahashi and Roku ask Yukio for his wellbeing. Yukio replies that he is fine and it is just a slight bruise.
A depressed Chiaki looks at his teammates and comments, that who do I want to protect? I already abandoned basketball once before, and questions why is he here? Momoharu urges his teammate to score. Upon hearing, Takahashi encourages his squad that they will close the deficit gap. Kenji, from the three-point line, shoots and scores the three-pointer. The deficit point gap is back to double digits. Kenji stares at Kojima and confidently comments that their team will win. Kojima then curses Kenji. On seeing, Yukio comments that his senior Kojima hates cheeky and mischievous individuals. Kenji then recalls the moment with his sister, Juri, when he promised her to meet at the Inter-High Tournament. Kenji then urges his squad that only three minutes remain to conclude this match, and they will indeed win. Kuzuryu High then changes their defensive formation to man-to-man defense. One of the members of Saijo High comments that doing man-to-man defense in the final moments of the match can be dangerous. Fujita agrees with his teammate and voices his opinion that as long as Kojima keeps his cool, their team still has a chance of attaining victory. In an intense match like this, it all comes down to a battle of stamina. An impressed Sakamaki asks Madoka what’s the name of the number 11 player on their team? Madoka replies his name is Kenji Natsume, and he is a freshman like Sora. Sakamaki praises Kenji’s basketball skills. Madoka then further informs Sakamaki and Yuka names of the other team members at their club.
Roku quickly passes Sora’s defense and easily score the layup shot bringing the deficit gap to single digits. The score is 72 to 80. A furious Sora urges his squad to fall back and regroup. Due to his poor defense, Sora frighteningly looks at Kenji. Natsume replies that he is not angry with him and looks forward to receiving some good passes. At the tournament venue second floor, Yuka thanks Madoka for telling her the names of the other members at Kuzuryu High. Madoka looks at Yuka, asks about her wellbeing and comments that she is sweating a lot. Yuka replies that she is alright and the tournament hall is a bit humid from inside. Takahashi, while guarding Momoharu, looks at the time and comments that their team needs to start scoring; otherwise, they can’t win. Takahashi then looks at Kojima’s injured leg and is in doubt. Kojima smiles and reassures Takahashi that his knee is fine and there is no skin peeling off his bones. Takahashi awkwardly looks at him, and Kojima further comments their opponents are also feeling the effects of fatigue from the match. He is a lion with a broken leg who is matched up against some weak rabbits and confidently tells Takahashi, that who do you think consumes the other?
Kojima then reminds Takahashi that their goal is to make it into the Inter-High Tournament and they will not lose. While dribbling, Sora comments that regret, reward, and experiencing bitterness is just a teensy piece of the puzzle for those striving for victory, and for that, he wants to become a person that strengthens his teammates. Sora misses the jump shot, and Kojima grabs the rebound and passes the ball to Kazushi. A frustrated Sora tries to stop Kazushi from scoring. Due to being fatigued, Sora falls to the ground, and Kazushi easily scores the layup. Shinjo Towa Academy reduces the deficit gap to six points, and everyone at the tournament venue worriedly stares at an exhausted Sora lying on the court.
- The creator of Ahiru no Sora ‘Takeshi Hinata’ illustrated this particular scene in the series as a reference to show his gratitude and appreciation towards Takehiko Inoue’s sports manga Slam Dunk, the series has over 157 million copies in circulation, making Slam Dunk the eighth best-selling manga series in history.
- Kenji Natsume
- Sora Kurumatani
- Kazushi Kashiwagi
- Ryuuhei Nabeshima
- Masahiro Saki
- Rokurou Hirai
- Yasuhara Shinichi
- Momoharu Hanazono
- Kaname Shigeyoshi
- Nao Nanao
- Chiaki Hanazono
- Masayoshi Satsuki
- Tamo Yukio
- Yukinari Kojima
- Katsumi Takahashi
- Yuka Kurumatani
- Madoka Yabuchi
- Sakamaki Yohito