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Peppers earns final week honors

by Ed Odeven

Rookie forward Joshua Peppers was a reliable all-around scoring threat for the first-year Rizing Fukuoka this season, scoring 20 or more points 23 times. His team, meanwhile, earned a playoff berth on the final day of the bj-league’s regular season on Sunday, a day in which he scored 23 points and matched his single-game highs in free-throw attempts (11) and makes (seven) in a series-closing win over the Ryukyu Golden Kings. Peppers is the Circle K Sunkus Player of the Week, the bj-league announced on Tuesday. The 23-year-old scored 26 points in Saturday’s win as well. Peppers, who was second in the league in scoring at 22.2 points per game, and Fukuoka (20-24) are now in preparation mode for Sunday’s Western Conference wild-card game against the host Takamatsu Five Arrows. Peppers previously starred at the University of Central Florida and, before that, Whitehaven High School in Memphis, Tenn. In related news, Osaka Evessa sharpshooter Naoto Nakamura wrested the free-throw shooting title from Tokyo Apache All-Star Cohey Aoki, who won the title in the league’s first two seasons. Nakamura finished the season with a 91.1 percent success rate (61 of 67) from the charity stripe. The 167-cm Aoki, on the other hand, drew fouls at a much higher rate; he attempted 190 foul shots and made 170 of them.