Coming off a 20-point home loss on Saturday, a game in which they scored only 48 points, the Sendai 89ers probably felt like they hit rock bottom — or something close to it.
In Sunday’s rematch against the defending champion Ryukyu Golden Kings, Sendai looked like a legitimate playoff contender.
Kenichi Takahashi, Josh Peppers and Chris Holm scored 15 points apiece and the 89ers were 21-for-23 at the free-throw line in a 78-65 win in a clash of bj-league heavyweights.
Takahashi missed only one of his nine foul shots, and Holm was 5-for-5 to give Sendai (18-12) a big boost.
Backup guard and fan favorite Takehiko Shimura had 11 points, including 3-for-6 from 3-point range, and handed out seven assists in 24 minutes for the 89ers.
Coach Honoo Hamaguchi’s club made smart decisions with the basketball, turning it over only nine times.
Sendai also outscored Ryukyu 27-13 in the fourth quarter.
George Leach paced the Golden Kings (21-11) with 19 points and collected 12 rebounds. Yosuke Sugawara added 12 points and Masashi Obuchi and Kevin Steenberge had nine points apiece. Steenberge hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds.
Tsubasa Yonamine led Ryukyu with six assists.
Also Sunday, Jermaine Green scored 25 points and Wayne Arnold had 17 in the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix’s 85-45 home win over the Toyama Grouses.
Hamamatsu (24-6), which recorded a series sweep, outscored Toyama 45-15 in the second and third quarters.
The Grouses (12-16) shot 25.3 percent (18-for-71) from the field. This included a 3-for-23 effort from 3-point range. To make matters worse for coach Charles Johnson’s team, Toyama was 6-for-19 at the foul line, including Kirby Lemons’ 1-for-9 performance.
Takeshi Mito was the Grouses’ leading scorer with 13 points. Kenya Tomori, who scored six, was second on the list.
The Niigata Albirex BB, meanwhile, completed a series sweep, beating the visiting Rizing Fukuoka 84-83.
Antonio Burks scored a team-best 26 points and added 10 rebounds and four assists for Niigata (16-14), while Uche Echefu had a 19-point, 13-rebound effort. Tyrone Levett scored 17 points and Yuichi Ikeda poured in 12 for the Albirex.
For Fukuoka (19-13), Michael Parker was the high scorer with 30 points and Marlyn Bryant finished with 28. Kohei Mitomo (10 points, five assists) and Tsuyoshi Kawazura (five assists) provided ample passing support from the backcourt, but the Rizing’s free-throw shooting woes (16-for-27) hurt their chances of winning this down-to-the-wire road contest.
Hirohisa Takada was 6-for-9 on 3-point shots and finished with 18 points in the Osaka Evessa’s 87-69 home win over the Saitama Broncos.
The Evessa (16-14) won both weekend contests. They secured the victory on Sunday by controlling the glass (61-43 edge in rebounds). In addition, Osaka was 18-for-25 at the line and Saitama was 7-for-7.
David Palmer added 13 points, Lynn Washington added 12 and Ryan Blackwell scored 10 for Osaka. Center Jason Klotz had a nine-point, 16-rebound, five-assist performance in his second game in an Evessa uniform.
Kwbana Beckles led the Broncos (11-17) with 16 points, Terrence Woodyard scored 15 and Haruhito Shishito had 10.
Elsewhere, the Oita HeatDevils prevailed 86-78 in overtime over the host Shiga Lakestars.
Kimitake Sato hit a pair of free throws with 1:27 left in OT to give Oita the lead for good.
Ricky Woods had a team-high 30 points and 12 rebounds for the HeatDevils (14-18), who earned a series split. Mike Bell added 15 points and 13 boards, Matt Lottich scored 13 and Sato contributed 11.
Luke Zeller scored 20 points to lead Shiga (16-18) and Gary Hamilton had 14. On a day when the Lakestars missed half of their free throws (9-for-18), Shiga guard Masashi Joho, the team’s leading scorer at 14.6 points per game, was 0-for-7 from the field and had zero points.
Takamichi Fujiwara, who also had a poor shooting game (1-for-8) for the Lakestars, hit a buzzer-beating 2-point shot to tie it 73-73 at the end of the fourth quarter and force overtime.