Osaka Evessa power forward Lynn Washington scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his first game since sustaining a knee injury in November, but the Rizing Fukuoka spoiled the 2005-06 bj-league MVP’s return in an 88-87 overtime victory on Saturday in Kansai.
Michael Gardener scored a team-high 22 points for Fukuoka (14-23), which had five players in double figures.
Matt Lottich led the two-time defending champion Evessa (26-11) with 23 points, Naoto Nakamura had 19 and Mikey Marshall 14.
The host Tokyo Apache improved to 21-16 with a 93-79 win over Eastern Conference rival Niigata Albirex BB at Ariake Colosseum before 2,856 fans.
John “Helicopter” Humphrey was Tokyo’s top scorer with 25 points. Cohey Aoki added 18, Dean Browne had 17 and 10 boards and standout center Nick Davis had 13 points, eights rebounds, six blocks and five assists.
For Niigata (23-14), Matt Garrison led the way with 25 points and Yuichi Ikeda contributed 14.
Elsewhere Saturday, the visiting Takamatsu Five Arrows routed the Ryukyu Golden Kings 104-66. The Five Arrows outscored the Golden Kings 65-35 in the second half.
Reggie Warren (28 points, 14 rebounds), Geroge Leach (22 points, 17 boards) and Yu Okada (16 points) were the top offensive standouts for Takamatsu (25-12).
For Ryukyu (10-27), Naoto Takushi had a team-best 17 points.
Bobby St. Preux’s game-high 36 points sparked the Sendai 89ers to an 87-79 road win over the Saitama Broncos.
Forward Ryan Blackwell had seven assists to guide the offense for Sendai (25-12), while Nick DeWitz added 16 points and Hikaru Kusaka 13.
For Saitama (19-18), Mamadou Diouf was the top scorer with 28 points.
The Oita HeatDevils used balanced scoring to edge the host Toyama Grouses 87-85. Led by Yukinori Suzuki’s 16 points, six players scored in double figures for Oita (18-19).
Toyama slipped to 4-34 despite six players reaching double digits in scoring, including Kazutoshi Ohta, who had 19.