In a possible preview of this season’s bj-league championship game, the Ryukyu Golden Kings defeated the host Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix 86-80 on Saturday.
It was the first meeting of the season between the current conference leaders, and the Golden Kings’ overall versatility played a pivotal role in the victory.
Shigeyuki Kinjo scored a team-high 24 points, while Jeff Newton (17 points, 10 rebounds), Chris Ayer (16 points, 12 boards) and Anthony McHenry (13 points, 10 boards) all posted double-doubles as Ryukyu improved to 32-9.
McHenry, a former Georgia Tech and NBA Development League player, also had five assists and three steals. Newton finished with four blocks, while point guard Naoto Takushi added eight assists and two steals.
The Golden Kings held a 59-49 edge in rebounds.
Michael Gardener paced the Phoenix (28-13) with 27 points, but struggled from the field (10-for-32, including 4-for-18 from 3-point range). He also had 11 rebounds. Stanley Ocitti added 12 points and big man Sun Ming Ming had seven points (two dunks) and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.
Also Saturday, center Julius Ashby scored 16 points and cleared 13 rebounds in the Tokyo Apache’s 79-65 road win over the Rizing Fukuoka.
The Apache (26-15) had six players with three or more assists, led by Dameion Baker’s four, and finished with 13 steals to the Rizing’s five. Tokyo’s Masashi Joho had a team-high four steals.
Despite veteran big man Nick Davis’ absence from the lineup due to a fractured left elbow, the Apache dominated this game. John Humphrey, Baker and Cohey Aoki contributed 12 points apiece and Joho added 11, but Tokyo struggled at the free-throw line (10-for-19).
For Fukuoka (17-24), Marlyn Bryn was the leading scorer with 25 points.
Michael Parker added 21 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks and two steals in the loss. No other Rizing player scored more than six points.
Elsewhere Saturday, Reggie Warren scored 25 points and Taishiro Shimizu finished with 24 points and five steals in the Saitama Broncos’ 84-75 win over the visiting Takamatsu Five Arrows.
Antoine Broxsie chipped in with 14 rebounds for Saitama (17-24).
Yu Okada had a 17-point performance for the Five Arrows, who slipped to 27-14.
Babacar Camara, Rasheed Sparks and Gordon James each grabbed 10 rebounds for Takamatsu, which missed 25 of 37 3-point attempts.
Shiga Lakestars center Ray Schafer gave his team 20 points on 9-for-15 shooting, a pair of dunks and a big inside presence in a 76-60 home win over the Toyama Grouses.
Ryan Rourke contributed 19 points, Bobby Nash had 12 and Takamichi Fujiwara dished out five assists for the Lakestars (16-25).
Shiga controlled the glass, holding a 54-36 edge in rebounds. Coach Bob Pierce’s club also collected 13 steals.
Jerod Ward had 31 points, his fifth straight game with 30 or more, but the Grouses (10-31) dropped their seventh straight game.
Bobby St. Preux had hot hand from long range, knocking down 7 of 12 3-pointers, in the Sendai 89ers’ 82-74 win over the visiting Oita HeatDevils.
Chris Holm (13 points, 18 rebounds, five assists), Rodney Webb (14 points) and Kenichi Takahashi (10 points) also played key roles in Sendai’s win. The 89ers improved to 22-19.
James Wilkinson had 16 points for Oita (7-34).
Paul Butorac scored 21 points and Akitomo Takeno poured in 20 as the Niigata Albirex BB improved to 19-22 with a 94-82 road win over the Osaka Evessa.
Lynn Washington finished with 32 points and 19 boards for the Evessa (25-16). Osaka was 3-for-18 from 3-point range.