With eight games in the books, the Ryukyu Golden Kings have had the basketball equivalent of a perfect hand of cards since the season’s opening tipoff. And it’s as if Ryukyu coach Dai Oketani has seen nothing but aces.
The Golden Kings picked up another victory on Sunday, doing so in dramatic fashion.
With his team trailing 72-71, power forward Jeff Newton gave Ryukyu (8-0) a one-point edge by sinking a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Newton made two more free throws with 4 seconds remaining, helping his team earn a 75-74 triumph over the host Takamatsu Five Arrows.
Gordon James made a two-point basket with no time left on the clock to account for the Five Arrows’ final points. James led Takamatsu (5-3) with 19 points and 15 rebounds, while forward Isaac Sojourner scored a season-high 14 points, Hiroyuki Kikuchi added 11 and Rasheed Sparks had a 10-point, 10-rebound performance.
Newton, one of the difference-makers on the Osaka Evessa’s three title teams, finished with 26 points and 13 boards. Anthony McHenry added 19 points, Shigeyuki Kinjo poured in 11 and Naoto Takushi continued his fine all-around play (eight points, six boards, five assists).
Elsewhere in the bj-league, the Rizing Fukuoka defeated host Osaka 99-94.
Jesse King III paced Fukuoka (2-6) with 29 points. Michael Parker (23 points, 11 boards), Reo Logan (15 points) and Marlyn Bryant (14 points) also played prominent roles in the win.
Lynn Washington, the league’s leading scorer, continued his super season with a 26-point, 14-rebound performance. Nile Murry added 25 markers, Nick DeWitz 19 and Naoto Nakamura 10 as Osaka (4-4, including 1-3 at home) fell to .500.
The visiting Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix improved to 5-3 by routing the Niigata Albirex BB 91-70.
Josh Peppers led the Phoenix with a game-high 26 points, and Adam Zahn and Andy Ellis chipped in with 13 and 10, respectively.
Hamamatsu, which leads the league with 92.4 points per game, outscored Niigata 57-33 in the second half.
Center Calum MacLeod put 14 points on the board for Albirex. Yuichi Ikeda and Calvin Chitwood each scored 13 apiece and Dokun Akingbade was held to 12 points a day after he scored 30.
The Sendai 89ers, meanwhile, completed a weekend sweep, beating the visiting Saitama Broncos 75-68.
For the 89ers (4-4), Bobby St. Preux scored a season-high 31 points on 10-for-17 shooting and stuffed the stat sheet with eight rebounds, three steals and three assists. Chris Holm added 13 points and 12 boards and Hikaru Kusaka dished out five assists for Sendai, which had five players with two or more assists.
Steve Horne was the No. 1 scorer for Saitama (5-3). Reggie Warren finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Taishiro Shimizu had nine points and seven helpers.
Also Sunday, Brayden Billbe scored 28 points and Bobby Nash contributed 26 to lead the host Shiga Lakestars to an 82-73 triumph over the Oita HeatDevils.
Takamichi Fujiwara had a season-high 13 assists for the Lakestars (3-5).
James Wilkinson (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Kimitake Sato (14) were solid performers, but the HeatDevils fell to 2-6.