Nebraska guard Keisei Tominaga opens up on viral crying moment after Cornhuskers loss

College basketball star Keisei Tominaga says there should be more room for emotion in sports. 

“I think it should be more celebrated,” Tominaga, a 23-year-old University of Nebraska guard originally from Japan, said after he went viral for openly crying after his Cornhuskers lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Nebraska, a No. 8 seed, was knocked out Friday by 9th-seeded Texas A&M, 98-83. 

For Tominaga, a 6’2” senior whose penchant for three-pointers has earned him the nickname “Japanese Steph Curry,” it was the final game of his college career. 

Tominaga, who said he’s developed a strong friendship with his teammates, explained that he was overwhelmed with feelings when he realized the significance of the game. 

“I was sad to be losing the game, but also it was the last time I’d be wearing the Cornhuskers uniform,” Tominaga said, who finished with 21 points. “It’s the last time I’d be playing for the Huskers. The last time I’d be playing for Coach [Fred] Hoiberg. That was the thing that was going through my head.”

Though most people praised Tominaga for his emotional moment, he’s also been trolled and received racist comments. 

Tominaga walks off the court after Nebraska’s 98-83 loss.Brandon Dill / AP

“I’m just happy to be something people talk about,” Tominaga, who’s known for his boisterous attitude on the court, said. 

Tominaga, who grew up in Japan and is still a member of the country’s national basketball team, began his playing career in the U.S. in 2019 at Ranger College in Texas. He joined the Cornhuskers two years later. With a large following in Japan, particularly after his appearance at the 2020 Summer Olympics in 3×3 basketball, Tominaga has long dealt with internet chatter and scrutiny. 

“Wherever I go, I’m just going to pretty much play my basketball and then show the fans really, I can play up to that level,” he said. 

Tominaga, whose father also played for the Japanese national team, said that his significance on an NCAA court isn’t lost on him. With few Asian basketball players leading their teams in March Madness, Tominaga says he tries to make his fans of Asian descent proud. 

“Asian people, even the ones who live in America, who come to watch my games — those kinds of things make me want to work as hard as I can so I can be a role model,” he said. 

While his college career may be over, Tominaga says he’s looking to break into the NBA. But for now, he says, he’s finally getting some time to rest. 

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