Sunrockers advance to JBL finals

The Japan Times

The Hitachi Sunrockers earned a trip to the Japan Basketball League finals, defeating the Panasonic Trians 76-62 in the decisive Game 3 of the playoff semifinals on Monday in Tokyo.

Leading the way for Hitachi were Kei Igarashi (17 points), Joji Takeuchi (15 points, team-best eight rebounds), Lamar Rice (13 points), Hiroyuki Ueyama 10 points and Yuichi Kan (four steals).

The Sunrockers held the Trians to 3-for-21 from 3-point range.

Fumihiko Aono scored a team-best 18 points for Panasonic, while Jerald Honeycutt added 12.

Hitachi, which went 23-12 in the regular season, will face the defending JBL champion Aisin Sea Horses, which posted a 24-11 record before the playoffs began, in the best-of-five finals. The championship series gets under way on Friday.

Coach Kimikazu Suzuki’s Aisin squad beat the Tokyo Alvark 80-72 in Game 1 of their playoff series on Saturday and 67-62 in the series-clinching win on Sunday.

Joji Takeuchi’s twin brother, Aisin center/forward Kosuke Takeuchi, is the 2008-09 JBL MVP. He averaged 18.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game. And of course, much of the media hype involving this series will involve the head-to-head competition involving the Takeuchi brothers.