The Takamatsu Five Arrows gave an impressive two-day primer on hoops over the weekend at Ariake Colosseum.
They opened Sunday’s game against the Tokyo Apache on a strong note and closed it out in style, securing a 92-78 victory over the Tokyo Apache before 4,280 fans.
Satoshi Takeda’s dunk with 1 second remaining put the finishing touches on Sunday’s hardwood masterpiece, a game in which the Five Arrows passed the ball early, often and effectively, with Yu Okada (eight assists) and Makoto Kita (six) running the ball-distribution duties with confidence, patience and eye-popping accuracy. Reggie Warren, meanwhile, gave a vintage effort from the power forward position, scoring a team-high 23 points and pulling down 19 rebounds.
In a tight contest on Saturday, rookie Julius Ashby, Takamatsu’s rising star at center, blocked five shots in the fourth quarter. His team won by six points, 79-73.
For Tokyo, Sunday’s setback was the team’s 11th straight defeat. Coach Joe Bryant’s club fell to 11-27, while the Five Arrows, a first-year expansion squad, improved to 24-14, which keeps them even with the Niigata Albirex BB for second place in the league standings behind the Osaka Evessa (28-10).
After Sunday’s game, Tokyo’s final home contest of the 2006-07 season, Bryant spoke passionately about his team’s loyal fan base.
“When you are winning games, fans will always show up,” he added, standing next to his team on the court. “But you really need your family when times are hard.”
He publicly asked his wife, Pam, whom he called “his best friend for 33 years,” to stand up and be acknowledged after the game.
Bryant said: “Hopefully, you (the fans) are proud of us for staying tight as a family.”
Tokyo trailed 28-17 after one quarter and 41-30 at the break. But the Apache made a spirited comeback in the third period, using an 11-3 run to pull within 55-49.
The Apache traded baskets with the Five Arrows over the next several minutes, but Okada, who scored 17 points, nailed a victory-clinching 3-pointer, his third of the contest, to push the lead to 74-63 with 4:13 left in the game.
Ashby finished with an 18-point, 14-rebound performance and Rasheed Sparks scored 16 before being helped off the court with a twisted ankle in the third quarter.
“In the last week, we made the playoffs after the Osaka game, but our team’s bad point is we are not stable,” Takamatsu coach Motofumi Aoki said. “(This weekend), the team was in a good condition.”
For Tokyo, John Humphrey had 25 points, Kohei Aoki added 20 and Hideki Katsumata, a Saitama product, scored a season-best 15 points.
In other bj-league action on Sunday, the Osaka Evessa improved their league-best record to 28-10 by beating the Oita HeatDevils 81-76. Power forward Lynn Washington scored a game-best 37 points for the victorious visitors. David Palmer added 19, Matt Lottich poured in 11 and Naoto Nakamura had eight.
For Oita, Andy Ellis led his team with 30 points, Justin Allen scored 13 and Mikey Marshall and Yukinori Suzuki had 11 apiece.
The host Niigata Albirex BB earned a 79-67 triumph over the Toyama Grouses. Center Nick Davis had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Matt Garrison scored 15, Antoni Wyche dished out five assists and Naoto Kosuge, Daiki Terashita and Yuichi Ikeda all scored seven.
Nate James and Nile Murry both had 20-point outings for Toyama, while Takinori Goya had five assists.
The Sendai 89ers eked out an 86-82 win over the host Saitama Broncos. Michael Chappell had a game-best 31 points, Mamadou Diouf scored 27, Ryan Blackwell had 15 and Taira Yoshida nine for Sendai, which outscored Saitama 26-16 in the fourth quarter. Gordon James (25 points, 17 rebounds) paced Saitama.