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Newton helps Ryukyu to win over Fukuoka

by Ed Odeven

Jeff Newton’s former team is 2-0. His new team began the weekend with a pair of victories, too.

The standout center scored a game-best 27 points and pulled down 18 rebounds to lead the Ryukyu Golden Kings to a 96-83 victory over the visiting Rizing Fukuoka on Sunday in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.

Earlier Sunday, the three-time defending bj-league champion Osaka Evessa completed a weekend sweep of the expansion Shiga Lakestars, picking up an 89-73 win in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture.

Newton, a high-profile member of Osaka’s dynasty, scored 26 points in his Ryukyu debut on Saturday. A day later, he helped his team put itself atop the Western Conference standings.

Newton wasn’t the only Golden King to have a banner performance. Forward Anthony McHenry chipped in with a 19-point, seven-rebound, five-assist effort and forward Bryan Simpson added 19 points. Talented youngster Shigeyuki Kinjo netted 15 points a day after a 6-for-7 effort from 3-point range and 22 total points, while backcourt mate Naoto Takushi supplied eight points.

Michael Parker scored a team-high 21 points for Fukuoka, while Michael Sturns had 13, Brandon Tobias 11 and Kohei Mitomo seven.

In a rematch of the Evessa’s three-point win on Saturday, Osaka pulled away by outscoring Shiga 32-17 in the third quarter, taking an 80-53 advantage into the final period.

Ex-Toyama Grouses guard Nile Murry, who returned to the league after spending last season in Hungary, was Osaka’s top scorer (19 points) and added eight boards and six assists for good measure. Lynn Washington and Justen Naughton both finished with double-doubles, the two-time league MVP getting 18 points and 11 boards and the newcomer supplying 13 and 12.

Naoto Nakamura and Kazuya Hatano scored nine and eight points, respectively for the Evessa.

For Shiga, forward Ryan Rourke sparked the offense with a 29-point effort. Coach Robert Pierce’s team had two more double-digit scorers: Bobby Nash (11) and Brayden Billbe (10).

Lakestars center Ryan Schafer had seven points and Yosuke Machida and Takamichi Fujiwara had five apiece.

The Niigata Albirex BB plays host to the Tokyo Apache on Friday as the league returns to action for Week 2.