The Kyoto Hannaryz celebrated shooting guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s 41st birthday on Tuesday. They had another reason to celebrate on Saturday.
The first-year expansion team earned the biggest win in franchise history, defeating the title-chasing Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix 74-69 at home.
Kyoto improved to 14-21, handing the Phoenix (29-8) only their fifth defeat in 19 away games.
Coach David Benoit’s club outscored Hamamatsu 24-7 in the final quarter.
Abdul-Rauf and Josh Bostic scored 16 points apiece for the Hannaryz, while J.R. Inman had 14, including 7-for-9 at the free-throw line, and Taizo Kawabe scored 10 on 4-for-7 shooting. Bostic also grabbed a game-high 11 boards. Kyoto captain Naoto Takushi had seven points and four assists.
In his three previous games, Abdul-Rauf had scored 23, 25 and 24 points in succession, a reminder of his high-scoring days at Louisiana State and later in the NBA in the 1990s.
On Saturday, Abdul-Rauf drained both of his free-throw attempts, helping set the tone for his team’s 19-for-22 performance at the line.
Wendell White paced the Phoenix with 25 points. Wayne Arnold scored 11 and Jermaine Green had 10.
Also Saturday, All-Star Ricky Woods scored 23 points and hauled in 16 rebounds and made three steals to lead the Oita HeatDevils to a 72-70 road win over the Saitama Broncos.
The HeatDevils (17-22) snapped a two-game losing streak, and Woods, the team’s leading scorer, returned to the lineup after a two-game absence due to an ankle injury.
Matt Lottich broke a 70-70 deadlock with 6 seconds remaining, hitting the game-winning shot. He had nine points, eight rebounds and seven turnovers, but delivered in the clutch.
Mike Bell finished with 14 points and seven boards and Kimitake Sato added 13, including 3-for-3 on 3-point shots, for Oita.
For Saitama (13-22), Mario Jointer had a team-high 22 points and eight steals and Terrence Roberts added 15 points, 11 boards and five steals.
The Broncos collected 20 steals and forced 26 turnovers, but hurt themselves at the free-throw line (4-for-10) and from 3-point range (4-for-23).
The Sendai 89ers spoiled standout center Paul Butorac’s return to the Niigata Albirex BB lineup after a 10-game absence, beating the hosts 68-57.
Butorac, who broke a bone on his pinkie finger in early February, had 10 points and eight rebounds for Niigata (18-19), which trailed 56-35 after three quarters.
For Sendai (23-12), Josh Peppers had a team-best 17 points, Gyno Pomare added 16 points and 14 boards and Chris Holm had 15 points and 17 rebounds. Nick Dewitz, making his season debut with the 89ers, had eight points, five rebounds and three of his team’s 10 blocked shots. Four Sendai players had three assists, including fan favorite Takehiko Shimura.
The 89ers have won six straight games.
Uche Echefu paced the Albirex with 18 points and nine boards and Tyrone Levett scored 15. Akitomo Takeno, who scored 17 points in the teams’ first meeting on Oct. 17 and zero points in the next day’s game, had a two-point performance (0-for-12 from the field) in a game that was more one-sided than the final outcome.
Elsewhere, the Toyama Grouses put 33 points on the board in the fourth quarter en route to an 84-73 home triumph over the Shiga Lakestars.
Newcomer Bilal Abdullah, now averaging 18.3 points in his three games with the Grouses, and Takeshi Mito each scored 16 points for Toyama (14-21). Jason Underwood chipped in with 15 points for the hosts, who had five players score in double figures.
Shiga’s four-game winning streak ended.
Masashi Joho led the Lakestars (20-19) with 18 points and Mikey Marshall scored 17. Gary Hamilton contributed a double-double (11 points, 12 boards) in defeat.
The defending champion Ryukyu Golden Kings beat the visiting Takamatsu Five Arrows 85-69 and improved to 25-14, the best record in the seven-team Western Conference.
Ryukyu’s Masashi Obuchi led all scorers with 19 points and Yasufumi Takushi and Yosuke Sugawara had 11 apiece. George Leach (10 points, 14 rebounds, five assists) and Anthony McHenry (10 points, 16 boards, six assists) also played prominent roles in the Golden Kings’ triumph.
The Five Arrows (11-26) trailed 47-26 at the half.
Jeffrey Price, a former Oita and Rizing Fukuoka forward/center, had a 16-point, 11-rebound effort in his Takamatsu debut. Michael Gardener and Antoine Broxsie each scored 15 and Satoshi Takeda had 12. Yu Okada struggled to score points, going 0-for-9 from the field in a three-point outing.