When Takumi Ishizaki signed a contract last summer to play for the expansion Shimane Susanoo Magic for the 2010-11 season, the expansion club immediately became a playoff contender.
Fast forward to this weekend for a clear-cut reminder, as Ishizaki and his strong all-around team completed a two-game sweep over the visiting Akita Northern Happinets, wining 100-88 on Sunday in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture.
The Zeljko Pavlicevic-led team improved to 22-24 while winning the two weekend games by a combined 46 points.
Ishizaki, meanwhile, scored in double digits for the 10th straight game, and in eight of those games he’s made 50 percent or more of his shots from inside the 3-point arc. On Sunday, Japan national team guard Ishizaki, arguably the best all-around native player in the bj-league, had 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal. He was 4-for-5 on 3-point shots, enough to give Akita coach Bob Pierce a few nightmares in the next few days.
Reggie Golson contributed 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the victors. Terry Evans, providing 40 minutes of hustle and muscle for Shimane, added 19 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots. Tatsuhiro Yokoo scored 12 and Will Caudle had 10. Jeral Davis, limited to 10 minutes in the series finale, still had seven points and three blocks.
Akita’s Sek Henry had a 29-point, seven-rebound, seven-assist afternoon and Antonio Burks scored 25 points, including 6-for-9 on 3s. Will Graves, two games removed from a 41-point outburst, was 2-for-13 from the field, finishing with eight points and 11 boards for the Happinets (15-31).
Rizing 101, Lakestars 93
In Fukuoka, Michael Parker and Akitomo Takeno made a combined 20 of 29 shots from the field, propelling the Rizing to their eighth consecutive victory.
Parker scored a game-high 32 points and stuffed the stat sheet with 12 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots. Takeno, who possesses beautiful shooting mechanics, had a 20-point performance, was 5-for-5 at the free-throw line, handed out four assists and collected two steals.
Nile Murry (13 points, two steals), Abdullahi Kuso (13 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) and Thiago Cordeiro (nine points, nine rebounds) also made key contributions for Fukuoka.
Mikey Marshall was the top scorer for Shiga, putting 21 points on the board. Yu Okada and Ray Schafer scored 13 points apiece, while Lamar Rice and Gary Hamilton each had 11. Masashi Joho added 10 for the Lakestars (26-20).
Hannaryz 89, HeatDevils 62
In Kyoto, 42-year-old Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf continues to defy conventional wisdom about aging with a 20-point, five-assist effort, and Reggie Warren and Kibwe Trim each hauled in 19 rebounds as the hosts overwhelmed Oita.
Warren also scored 18 points for the Hannaryz (25-19), Naoto Nakamura poured in 16, Gordon Klaiber added 11 and Sunao Murakami had nine. Hikaru Kusaka, a valuable addition from the Sendai 89ers, dished out seven assists.
Kyoto’s inside muscle was too much for the undermanned HeatDevils, who lost the battle on the boards, a 69-37 rebounding deficit for the visitors.
Damian Johnson paced Oita (16-30), losers of nine straight, with 32 points and Kimitake Sato scored nine. All-Star guard Matt Lottich was sidelined with an injury.
Evessa 82, Shining Suns 80
In Miyazaki, Osaka completed a weekend sweep by eking out a win against the hosts.
Lynn Washington led the Evessa (29-17) with 23 points along with 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Wayne Marshall contributed 17 points and nine rebounds, while Billy Knight scored 10 points and Hirohisa Takada had nine. Kenny Satterfield, the league’s assist leader, had seven points and nine boards.
Brandon Cole had team-high totals in points (28) and rebounds (15) for Miyazaki, which fell to 13-33. Masashi Takahashi had 12 points and Taishiro Shimizu chipped in with 10 points and eight assists.
Golden Kings 83, Five Arrows 66
In Takamatsu, the hosts had a horrible shooting game — 19-for-59 on 2-pointers and 5-for-18 on 3-point shots — en route to a lopsided loss.
Ryukyu (31-15) won its seventh straight game. Carlos Dixon finished with 18 points and nine rebounds and David Palmer scored 14 for the Western Conference-leading squad. Anthony McHenry added 13 points and 10 boards and Jeff Newton followed suit with a double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds), while Naoto Kosuge (12 points) and Tsubasa Yonamine (seven points, six assists) had solid games as well as the Golden Kings improved to 14-8 on the road.
For Takamatsu (10-34), Hiroyuki Kikuchi was the top scorer (15 points), while Terrance Farley (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Satoshi Takada (12 points, seven steals, five assists) had productive games, too.