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Humphrey sidelined

by Ed Odeven

Veteran guard John “Helicopter” Humphrey, one of the most prolific scorers since the bj-league’s inception, is expected to be sidelined for at least a month due to a broken left wrist, the Tokyo Apache announced on Friday.

Humphrey, a two-time league scoring champion, sustained the injury in the Apache’s Jan. 18 game against the Saitama Broncos. He is fifth in the league in scoring (22.2 points per game) and helped Tokyo win 18 of 26 games in the season’s first half. Cohey Aoki is Tokyo’s No. 2 scorer (13.1 ppg).

Darin Satoshi Maki, the team’s starting point guard who has played 270 less minutes than backup Aoki, reserve Jun Iwasa and versatile Jumpei Nakama will likely see more minutes in the backcourt rotation to fill the void.

The Apache, who are in first place in the Eastern Conference, face the host Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix on Saturday and Sunday.

Tokyo has lost three of four games this season against the Phoenix (16-10).

In other league news, Antonio Burks scored 20 points to lead the visiting Niigata Albirex BB to a 92-79 victory over the host Saitama Broncos on Friday.

Akitomo Takeno added 16 points, Emmanuel Little poured in 15 and pulled down 13 rebounds, Dokun Akingbade had 15 and Yuichi Ikeda 12 as the Albirex improved to 12-15.

Isaac Sojourner scored 28 points and grabbed a game-high 15 boards in his first game for Saitama (11-16); he had played for the Takamatsu Five Arrows since 2006. Daiki Terashita scored 15 points and Reggie Warren contributed 11.

The league’s other 10 teams, meanwhile, return to action on Saturday.

This week’s bj-league notebook is on page 15.