Yosuke Sugawara’s 23-point, six-assist effort and Anthony McHenry’s 21-point, five-assist performance sparked the Ryukyu Golden Kings to an 85-73 road win over the Oita HeatDevils on Saturday.
Jeff Newton scored 14 points and hauled in 15 rebounds for the defending bj-league champion Golden Kings (32-19), Masahiro Obuchi poured in 10 points and Bryan Simpson scored nine.
Ricky Woods paced the HeatDevils (25-26) with 24 points and Mike Bell posted a double-double (20 points, 14 rebounds). Kimitake Sato chipped in with 12 points.
The visiting Osaka Evessa, meanwhile, prevailed 98-97 over the pesky Rizing Fukuoka.
Lynn Washington led the Evessa (33-18) with 29 points and 10 rebounds. David Palmer scored 19 and Ryan Blackwell had 17, while Nile Murry scored 10, Shoto Konno added nine and Hirohisa Takada had eight.
Michael Parker, who’ll wrap up his second straight scoring title on Sunday, had a routine 30-point outing for the Rizing (30-21) and Tsuyoshi Kawazura scored 19 points and had six assists. Marlyn Bryant added 17 points and Thiago Cordeiro scored 11.
The Western Conference’s playoff pairings will be officially determined after Sunday’s games. The top seed, either Osaka or Ryukyu, will play host to fourth-place Shiga Lakestars on May 15-16 in the playoffs’ opening round. Either Osaka or Ryukyu will play host to third-place Fukuoka.
Elsewhere, the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix recorded a 103-93 home victory over the Sendai 89ers.
Wendell White, a leading candidate for the regular-season MVP award, led the Phoenix (40-11) with 30 points. Four teammates also scored in double figures: William Knight (19 points), Wayne Arnold and Dzaflo Larkai (17) and Jermaine Green (10).
Hamamatsu improved to 5-2 against Sendai.
Josh Peppers had a team-high 25 points for the 89ers (35-16), while Nick DeWitz added 18 points and nine boards and Hikaru Kusaka scored 11. Gyno Pomare finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, Takehiko Shimura scored nine and dished out four assists and Kenichi Takahashi scored seven.
Also Saturday, the Niigata Albirex BB defeated the visiting Saitama Broncos 83-67.
Antonio Burks was the top scorer for the Albirex (25-26), finishing with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Paul Butorac added 14 points and 14 boards and Akitomo Takeno scored 14 and handed out five assists.
Niigata standouts Uche Echefu and Tyrone Levett did not play.
For the Broncos (16-35), Yasuaki Arai scored a team-best 12 points. Terrence Roberts finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds and Taishiro Shimizu and Terrence Woodyard scored 10 points apiece.
In a duel of struggling teams, the Takamatsu Five Arrows topped the Kyoto Hannaryz 86-76.
Yu Okada, who delivered a 25-point effort, was the Five Arrows’ leading scorer, followed by Satoshi Takeda’s 21 points and Jeffrey Price’s 20-point, 12-rebound game.
Takamatsu improved to 13-38; Kyoto, an expansion team, fell to 16-35.
Sunao Murakami had a season-high 17 points for the Hannaryz and John Clifford scored 16 and collected 14 rebounds.