The run-and-gun Takamatsu Five Arrows picked up their first victory of the season on Sunday, prevailing 95-91 over the visiting Kyoto Hannaryz.
Spitfire guard Michael Gardener, the league’s third-leading scorer last season while playing for the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, had a game-high 35 points in his second game with the Five Arrows. Sporting jersey No. 77, Gardener added 10 rebounds and seven assists for Takamatsu (1-5).
Backcourt mate Yu Okada, who had 21 points in the series opener, scored 28 in the rematch. Despite playing all 40 minutes, Okada’s stellar shooting touch stayed with him throughout the contest. He was 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 6-for-11 from inside the 3-point arc.
The expansion Hannaryz slipped to 2-2 despite Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s 25-point performance on 11-for-22 shooting. The 40-year-old guard played 39 minutes, with seven rebounds, five assists and two steals to his credit.
Kyoto center Reda Rhalimi provided a solid effort inside, stepping off the court with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Shiga Lakestars, meanwhile, rebounded from a 23-point loss on Saturday and earned a series split against the host Ryukyu Golden Kings.
Bobby Nash led the Lakestars with 23 points in their gritty 76-68 triumph. The ex-University of Hawaii player provided an offensive jolt off the bench, maximizing his 29 minutes. Teammates Masashi Joho (18 points) and Luke Zeller (10) also reached double figures in scoring.
Power forward Gary Hamilton quietly had an impressive all-around game (eight points, 10 boards, three steals and two blocks) in 28 minutes, helping Shiga improve to 4-2 despite shooting 6-for-15 at the foul line and 23-for-62 from 2-point range.
Chalk this up as the biggest win of the young season for Lakestars coach Bob Pierce’s squad. The visitors outscored the reigning champions 31-13 in the final stanza to seal the win. Steady point guard Takamichi Fujiwara’s nine-point, seven-rebound, six-assist effort was another essential factor for the second-year franchise.
For the Golden Kings (2-2), Shigeyuki Kinjo was the leading scorer (16 points).
Also Sunday, Cohey Aoki scored 20 points and Rasheed Sparks finished with 18 in the Tokyo Apache’s 90-87 road victory over the Toyama Grouses.
Five players scored in double digits for Tokyo (2-4), but frontcourt standout Julius Ashby did not play due to a one-game suspension.
Kirby Lemons paced the Grouses (1-1) with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Shooting guard Takeshi Mito had a 19-point performance.
Led by David Palmer’s 20-point outing, the Osaka Evessa eked out a 76-73 home triumph over the Rizing Fukuoka.
Solid passing, underscored by its 20 assists on 27 field goals, highlighted Osaka’s back-to-basics victory. Point guard Nile Murry directed the offense, dishing out 11 assists and adding 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals for good measure. Power forward Lynn Washington contributed 17 points and seven boards, while Jun Nakanishi made a team-high three steals for the Evessa (3-1).
Michael Parker, who had 29 points, was the top scorer for Fukuoka (1-3).
Power forward Gyno Pomare was an unstoppable force for the Sendai 89ers, guiding the hosts to an 82-78 win over the Niigata Albirex BB.
Pomare had 23 points on 11-for-15 shooting and 14 rebounds as Sendai improved to 4-0. Center Chris Holm provided his typical strong output (13 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks), and Kenichi Takahashi scored 13.
The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, meanwhile, collected their fourth win in as many games, defeating the visiting Saitama Broncos 91-82.
Limar Wilson scored 19 points, Wendell White added 18, Chris Mortellaro had 12 and Kazutoshi Ota 10 for the Phoenix, who misfired on 16 of 20 3-point attempts.