Saturday’s game will be an easy one for Niigata Albirex forward Yuichi Ikeda to remember. After all, he put as many points on the board — 32 — as his jersey number in an 81-69 victory over the Saitama Broncos on Saturday.
Ikeda’s season-high output also matches the highest-scoring game by a Japanese player this season in the bj-league. Takamatsu Five Arrows shooting guard Yu Okada had 32 on Nov. 2.
Ikeda made 6 of 10 3-pointers and was 6-for-7 on shots from inside the 3-point arc.
Host Niigata (20-23) outscored Saitama 47-21 over the middle two quarters to take control of the game.
Big man Paul Butorac added 11 points and 11 rebounds, swingman Emmanuel Little had 13 points and eight boards and flashy guard Akitomo Takeno chipped in with 10 points for the Albirex.
For the Broncos (17-26), Reggie Warren had a team-best 25 points and 17 boards. Veteran forward Isaac Sojourner also posted a double-double (15 points, 16 rebounds) and Taishiro Shimizu scored 10 points.
Elsewhere, the Tokyo Apache earned a gritty 72-68 home win over the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix.
The Apache (27-16) led 57-50 with 6:54 left in the game, but fell behind by three after a 10-0 Phoenix run, which was capped by Marcus Morrison’s 3-pointer with 4:08 to play.
All-Star point guard Cohey Aoki, who has a knack for hitting clutch shots, made the game’s biggest shot, a go-ahead 3 with 2:55 left to give the Apache a 62-60 lead they would not relinquish. Aoki had nine points for Tokyo.
Dameion Baker and John “Helicopter” Humphrey each had 13 points in the win, while Julius Ashby contributed 11 and pulled down 15 rebounds and Masashi Joho had a 10-point outing.
Center Nick Davis returned to the Tokyo lineup after a three-game absence due to an elbow injury and collected nine rebounds on a night when the Apache had their hands full containing Michael Gardener, the league’s leader in steals and assists and joint No. 2 scorer (tied with Osaka Evessa star Lynn Washington at 25.2 points per game), and 236-cm center Sun Ming Ming.
Gardener was held to 13 points and six assists. Sun had a five-point, six-rebound performance.
Morrison was the top scorer for Hamamatsu (29-14) with 24 points.
Rodney Webb had 27 points, Bobby St. Preux added 20, Joe Barber poured in 18 and Josh Peppers 16 in the Sendai 89ers’ 98-81 win over the host Toyama Grouses.
Sendai improved to 24-19.
For Toyama (10-33), Jerod Ward had 24 points and 10 boards.
Michael Parker, the league’s leading scorer, paced the Rizing Fukuoka with a 31-point performance in a 93-78 road win over the Oita HeatDevils.
Parker added eight rebounds, six steals and three assists to help the Rizing improve to 19-24. Teammates Marlyn Bryant and Kohei Mitomo scored 19 and 16 points, respectively. Point guard Tsuyoshi Kawazura played a vital role in the win as well, finishing with 11 points, five assists, three steals and zero turnovers.
Oita (7-36) committed 21 turnovers in defeat, while center Jeffrey Price had a team-high 27 points.
Led by Jeff Newton’s 23 points, the host Ryukyu Golden Kings defeated his former club, the Osaka Evessa, 85-79.
Newton pulled down 12 rebounds and frontcourt mate Chris Ayer added 10 points and 16 rebounds, while Shigeyuki Kinjo scored 17. Anthony McHenry had 11 points and Naoto Takushi and Taketo Aoki nine apiece for Dai Oketani’s first-place club, which improved to 6-1 against the three-time defending champions this season.
Washington, one of four double-digit scorers for the Evessa (26-17), had 34 points.
A strong third quarter carried the Takamatsu Five Arrows to an 86-78 triumph over the visiting Shiga Lakestars.
Kazuyuki Nakagawa finished with a team-best 16 points and Babacar Camara and Okada had 15 apiece for the Five Arrows (29-14), who outscored Shiga 23-7 in the third quarter to help them overcome a 15-point halftime deficit.
Ryan Rourke paced the Lakestars (17-26) with 31 points. The other members of the expansion team’s “Big Three,” Bobby Nash and Ray Schafer, had 21 and 13 points, respectively.