Bouncing back from a three-point loss on Saturday, a game that helped the rival Ryukyu Golden Kings wrap up the Western Conference’s regular-season title, the Osaka Evessa locked up the West’s No. 2 seed for the playoffs and a bye into the conference semifinals.
Osaka, directed by rookie head coach Ryan Blackwell, defeated the Rizing Fukuoka 86-71 on Sunday in Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture, ensuring that the club only needs to win four more games to capture its fourth title in six seasons: the May 7-8 West semis and Final Four contests on May 21-22 at Ariake Colosseum.
Center Wayne Marshall had a season-high 26 points on 10-for-13 shooting to lead the Evessa scoring attack. Lynn Washington punched the time clock, so to speak, after a typical day at the office — 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists. Billy Knight scored 13 points, while former NBA floor leader Kenny Satterfield added 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Shota Konno chipped in with six points.
The Evessa went 32-18 during the regular season, which wrapped up on Sunday.
Abdullahi Kuso, who began the season in a Ryukyu uniform, had 20 points and nine rebounds for Fukuoka (30-20), which finished as the West’s No. 3 seed despite sharing the same won-loss record as the Shiga Lakestars. The tiebreaker — accumulative point differential (the difference in points scored vs. points allowed) — went to the Rizing, meaning after 100 games combined for the teams it came down to this: plus-3.6 for Fukuoka (average of 89.0 points scored vs. 85.4 points allowed) and plus-3.0 for Shiga (88.8 against 85.8).
Scoring champion and Fukuoka fan favorite Michael Parker, the winner for three seasons running, had 14 points and nine boards, Nile Murry scored 12 points, while Jun Nakanishi added 11 and Akitomo Takeno seven.
The Rizing will play host to the expansion Shimane Susanoo Magic in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday and Thursday. The other first-round West series pits Shiga vs. the Kyoto Hannaryz on Saturday and Sunday.
Golden Kings 94, Suns 61
In Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, reserve forward Yoshiki Yamashiro scored a season-high 22 points to lead Ryukyu to a rout in the season finale.
Yamashiro entered the game with 59 total points this season. He made 9 of 13 shots and hauled in five rebounds as the Golden Kings improved to 34-16.
Takehiko Shimura, a longtime Sendai 89er playing for Ryukyu after the March 11 disasters on a temporary relief contract, made all five of his shots, including four 3-pointers in a 14-point performance. Carlos Dixon poured in 13 points, Anthony McHenry had 12 and Jeff Newton scored nine and raked in nine boards. David Palmer collected 11 rebounds in the well-rounded win.
Brandon Cole paced Miyazaki (13-37) with 13 points and 14 boards in his 32nd double-double effort of the season.
Lakestars 95, Five Arrows 80
In Takamatsu, Mikey Marshall’s defensive tenacity fueled Shiga’s energy in a rout over the hosts.
Fleet-footed and fundamentally sharp on the court, Marshall made a whopping nine steals, bringing his total to 19 in the past four games, and added 26 points and 10 boards. Gary Hamilton, Masashi Joho and Lamar Rice each scored 14 for the Lakestars, winners of four straight. Shinya Ogawa contributed 10 points and Yu Okada scored eight.
For the Five Arrows (10-38), Kirby Lemons scored 16 and Terrance Farley and Hiroyuki Kikuchi had 15 points apiece.
Hannaryz 98, Magic 89
In Kyoto, Gordon Klaiber scored 26 points and Reggie Warren’s 25-point, 15-rebound, six-assist outing paced the Hannaryz to a sweep over Shimane.
Sunao Murakami had 14 points, Kibwe Trim scored 13 and Naoto Nakamura had six as Kyoto (28-20) earned a playoff spot in its second season.
Jeral Davis led the Susanoo Magic (24-26) with 24 points with nine boards and Reggie Golson scored 18, while Edward Yamamoto put 17 points on the board.
Phoenix 80, Albirex 69
In Toyano, Niigata Prefecture, Wayne Arnold had a team-best 17 points, Dzaflo Larkai added 16 points and eight rebounds and Jeffrey Parmer had 15 points and six steals as defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa collected its 40th win 46 games.
Shingo Okada and Kazutoshi Ota added nine points apiece for the Phoenix.
Guard Hirotaka Kondo scored a season-high 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting to lead the Albirex (20-20), who made 26 turnovers.
Happinets 88, Grouses 63
In Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture, Akita jumped out to a 27-9 by the end of the first quarter en route to a rout.
Sek Henry’s hot shooting (12-for-16) and 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists set the tone for the Northern Happinets (18-31), who’ll meet Niigata in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Hamamatsu will play host to Toyama in the other East semifinal series.
Antonio Burks had 21 points and eight rebounds and Ryosuke Mizumachi and Dokun Akingbade each scored nine for Akita.