KASUKABE, Saitama Pref. — There’s no doubt that Kenny Satterfield has had a stabilizing presence for the Saitama Broncos this season.
Bringing a winning attitude and world-class talent to a team that has never made the playoffs during the bj-league’s first five seasons, Satterfield has played an integral role in the Broncos’ six-game win streak, the longest in team history.
Need proof? Satterfield finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals while playing the entire 40 minutes of Saitama’s 76-64 victory over the Osaka Evessa at Kasukabe City Gymnasium on Saturday.
“For what we need him to do, he’s doing exactly that,” Saitama coach Bob Nash said.
“The strength of our team is in the word ‘team,’ ” the first-year coach added. “They’re not concerned with who scores, but that somebody scores.”
He offered similar sentiments about the team’s defense. Then he added: “I’m just really pleased with the effort my team gives each night.”
Satterfield, an NBA veteran who entered the game as the league’s top passer (7.0 assists per game), has had 14 or more points in five of the last six games and seven or more rebounds in five of those games. His all-around play has been a major factor during the win streak. He also made 9 of 15 free throws in the opener.
Satterfield isn’t the only reason for Saitama’s resurgence in recent weeks. Saitama’s 60-year-old coach stresses team play and challenges each of his players to make contributions. Center George Leach, for example, had 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks and Yuuki Kitamuki scored nine of his 11 points on three big 3-pointers in the fourth, when the Broncos manhandled and outscored Osaka 29-12. Kazuya Hatano also scored 11 points with four assists.
Kitamuki, who hustled repeatedly coming off screens and rotating into position for his shot, led all scores in the final period.
“He’s a silent assassin,” Broncos shooting guard Bobby Nash said. “He doesn’t say much, but when he’s called upon he makes big shots. . . . Tonight, when he was open, he stepped up and made big shots.”
The Broncos (10-15) closed out the game on a 10-3 run, including Kitamuki’s 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining.
“Kenny’s a veteran and he can get by people,” Evessa coach Ryan Blackwell said, “and George is athletic and a good finisher. . . . They are a good tandem.”
Western Conference-leading Osaka (17-8) dropped its third consecutive game, including two at home last weekend against the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix.
“We were flat today,” Evessa coach Ryan Blackwell said. “We have been flat the last few games. We didn’t come out with a lot of energy. We have just been flat and took some tough shots, and open shots we usually make, we didn’t make.
“They made the plays they had to make at the end, and we didn’t today.”
Indeed, Osaka’s offense was far from lethal in the final period: 3-for-16 from the field and seven turnovers.
Lynn Washington paced the Evessa with 17 points and 13 rebounds and Billy Knight scored 12.
Osaka had 22 third-quarter points to Saitama’s 12, taking a 52-47 advantage into the final period.
But backup big man Bruce Brown’s basket pulled the Broncos within 52-51 early in the fourth. Then a defensive goaltending call against Lawrence Blackledge on a Satterfield shot put Saitama ahead 53-52, prompting a timeout by Blackwell at the 8:22 mark.
Brown and Satterfield teamed up for another score moments later, when the former scooped up a loose ball and kissed it off the glass after the guard’s missed shot with just over 7 minutes remaining in a high-intensity fourth quarter.
Kitamuki’s catch-and-shoot 3-pointer gave the Broncos a 58-54 lead and Bobby Nash canned as Saitama took a 61-56 advantage. Satterfield’s basket-and-one made it a seven-point game as the Broncos boosters’ cheers grew louder and louder.
Washington’s 3 trimmed it to 66-61, but the Broncos were stronger down the stretch to seal the win.
“As a coach it’s rewarding to see your team come out and play good team basketball and I think tonight we did a really good job of playing good team ball at both ends of the floor,” Nash said.
The Evessa trailed 21-16 after one quarter, while looking tentative and appearing to force shots on several instances. What’s more, Osaka turned it over six times in the opening stanza.
The Broncos’ Gordon Klaiber scored 12 points in the first.
The Evessa closed out the half on a 9-2 run to trim the deficit to 35-30, the final points coming on Jason Klotz’s bank shot.
The Broncos shot 4-for-16 from the field in the second, aiding Osaka’s comeback attempt. But in the latter stages of the game Saitama’s bench players came in and maintained the high energy level of the starters.
“That’s big for our bench to come in and give us that kind of production,” Nash said, noting Kitamuki’s 11 points, Bobby Nash’s seven and Brown’s four-point, seven-rebound effort in 11-plus minutes.
“Bruce, Bobby and Yuuki did a good job of finishing out the game for us,” he added.
Lakestars 90, Hannaryz 88
In Muko, Kyoto Prefecture, Shiga edged Kyoto in a matchup of Kansai-area rivals.
Ray Schafer and Mikey Marshall each scored 15 for the Lakestars, Takamichi Fujiwara had 13, Lamar Rice and Okada each had 10 and Gary Hamilton’s all-around play (nine points, 18 rebounds, six assists) guided the club to a win in the series opener.
For Kyoto, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf scored 22, Kibwe Trim had 16 points along with 18 rebounds and Naoto Nakamura poured in 15.
Albirex 79, HeatDevils 58
In Niigata, Yuichi Ikeda and Julius Ashby scored 20 points apiece, Zach Andrews had 15 points and 19 rebounds and Naoto Takushi scored 12 and dished out eight assists for the hosts.
Kimitake Sato led Oita with 14 points, while Matt Lottich and Damian Johnson each scored 11.
Susanoo Magic 79, Grouses 62
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Reggie Golson scored 22 points, Forrest Ray Fisher had 13 and Takumi Ishizaki added 12 points and five assists to lead the hosts.
Brian Harper paced struggling Toyama with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Apache 95, Shining Suns 78
In Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture, Kensuke Tanaka scored 18 points for the second straight game and Byron Eaton had 17 and six assists to lead seven Tokyo players in double figures.
Brandon Cole and Jackie Manuel each scored 20 for Miyazaki.
89ers 78, Golden Kings 75
In Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Mac Hopson’s team-best 24 points and Chris Holm’s 16-point, 16-rebound effort along with Mike Bell’s 16 points sparked Sendai to a road win.
Shigeyuki Kinjo led Ryukyu with 21 points and Anthony McHenry had 13 points and 13 points.
Happinets 91, Rizing 90
In Fukuoka, Sek Henry scored 24 points, Paul Butorac had 18, Dokun Akingbade continued his strong effort on the boards — 16 rebounds along with 15 points — and Kazuhiro Shoji contributed 11 points as Akita bounced back from a road sweep at Oita earlier in the week.
Michael Parker led Fukuoka with 28 points and Nile Murry had 20.
Phoenix 106, Five Arrows 83
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Hamamatsu Higashimikawa improved to a league-best 23-2 with a one-sided win over Takamatsu.
Jeffrey Parmer had 23 points and Kenya Tomori added 17 points and five assists for the defending champions.
For the Five Arrows, Rasheed Sparks and Hiroyuki Kikuchi each scored 20.