How a team plays in the game after a loss is often a more revealing test of a team’s character than a game that occurs after a victory. Ancient Greek philosophers have said similar things, but they never watched basketball.
Thursday’s Tokyo Apache-Shiga Lakestars series opener paired two teams coming off losses. And the Apache were the stronger team from start to finish in a clinical 92-82 win at Komazawa Gymnasium.
Tokyo (24-13) trailed just once, 4-2, as it bounced back from a nine-point loss to the Saitama Broncos on Sunday.
Cohey Aoki iced the win, sinking 11 of 12 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter. He finished with 14 points.
John Humphrey scored a game-high 24 points for Tokyo and Julius Ashby added 19. Veteran big man Nick Davis had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Aoki had seven assists.
Davis, who played in the bj-league’s first title game as the starting center for the Niigata Albirex BB in the 2005-06 season, said his team has started to jell as the season progressed. He added: “We still have a ways to go.”
He said he’s comfortable with his role in the Apache offense, being utilized as a passer in the high post. “This frees up space for our scorers,” he said, citing Humphrey as the prime example.
Apache coach Joe Bryant called a timeout with 7:57 remaining in the fourth and his team leading 69-57. The succinct pep talk seemed to energize his team for the closing minutes.
Ryan Rourke and Bobby Nash had 16 points apiece for Shiga (13-24), which was coming off an 87-56 loss to the Ryukyu Golden Kings.
The Apache came out strong to start the third quarter, exerting themselves inside and leading by 16 points with 3:42 left in the quarter.
The Lakestars had trimmed a 14-point deficit to 10, but Tokyo never slumped. Dameion Baker then knocked down a spot-up jumper from the left baseline and Ashby powered his way inside for a pair of high-percentage shots sandwiched around a Davis layup.
Tokyo led 67-51 entering the fourth.