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Parker earns November accolades

by Ed Odeven

Do-it-all forward Michael Parker plays a starring role for the Rizing Fukuoka.

This was never more evident than during the team’s 8-1 performance in November, when they won six games by nine points or less.

Simply put, Parker was the difference-maker for coach Tadaharu Ogawa’s bj-league club during this pivotal stretch of games.

Parker is The Japan Times’ Offensive and Defensive Player of the Month for November. He leads the league in scoring (28.4 points per game) and is also first in steals (3.2) and fourth in blocked shots (2.4). In addition, he leads the league in minutes played (643).

The third-year Fukuoka player had 26 or more points in six games, 10 or more rebounds on five occasions and at least two steals and two blocks in seven contests. He grabbed at least six defensive rebounds in every game.

By being in the center of the action on virtually every play, Parker forces opponents to concentrate on his every move, which frees up his teammates to get good looks on offense. On the defensive end, he often end possessions with blocks, steals and boards.

Right now, Parker is playing basketball at a very high level.

The same could be said for Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix swingman Wendell White, who averaged 29.9 points per game in November and also received strong consideration for November’s Offensive Player of the Month award by The Japan Times.

What’s more, White had 30 or more points in three straight games to end the month, including 30- and 40-point efforts against the red-hot Rizing last weekend. In those games, he drained 10 of 19 3-point shots.

White has showcased the ability to be a go-to scorer for coach Kazuo Nakamura’s club this season, and helped end Fukuoka’s eight-game winning streak last Saturday.

Parker, meanwhile, reminded everyone that he can dominate all facets of the game, as evidenced by his 26-point (10-for-12 at the line), eight-rebound, three-block, three-assist effort on Nov. 1 against the Oita HeatDevils. Toyama Grouses guard Brandon Thomas also received consideration for November’s Defensive Player of the Month award.

Despite his team’s 1-4 record in the month, Thomas played quality defense, with 3.2 steals, 1.0 blocks, 36 defensive rebounds (58 total boards, or 11.6 rebounds per game). He also averaged 10.9 ppg, giving coach Charles Johnson’s club solid number across the board.