The Iwate Big Bulls earned the first regular-season victory in franchise history on Sunday. And it didn’t come easily.
The Big Bulls defeated the host Saitama Broncos 83-81 after surrendering 100 points in the series opener.
Leading the Iwate charge was Thomas Kennedy, who scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Kennedy leads coach Vlasios Vlaikidis’ team with 16.0 points per game. But Sunday’s triumph was far from a one-man show.
Iwate’s Sean Coleman scored 16 points and Yoshiaki Yamamoto had 14 on 6-for-8 shooting. Rising star Makoto Sawaguchi had an 11-point, five assist performance and Tasuku Namizato, whose brother Narito plays for the Ryukyu Golden Kings, added 10 points and four assists. Shawn Malloy chipped in with nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Big Bulls (1-5) led 46-29 at halftime.
John Flowers paced the Broncos (3-3) with 21 points and former NBA guard Kenny Satterfield notched a triple-double (14 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists).
After Sunday’s action, two of the bj-league’s 19 teams — the Takamatsu Five Arrows and Miyazaki Shining Suns — remain winless this season. Both teams dropped to 0-6 after series-ending losses.
Happinets 93, 89ers 88
In Sendai, 37-year-old forward Kazuhiro Shoji turned back the clock, scoring 23 points and nailing 6 of 9 3-pointers, and Michael Gardener chipped in with 19 points as Akita completed a two-game sweep in the Tohoku derby.
Akita (5-1) held off the 89ers in a wild fourth-quarter shootout that featured a combined 73 points.
Newcomer E.J. Drayton had 18 points for the Northern Happinets and Stanley Ocitti scored 11.
For Sendai (3-3), which played its first home game of the 2011-12 season before 5,064 fans on Saturday, versatile forward Johnny Dukes, who played college ball at San Francisco, had a game-best 30 points. Dan Fitzgerald scored 20 and O’Neil Mims added 13 points and nine assists. Hikaru Kusaka poured in 12 points with six assists and 89ers captain Takehiko Shimura scored 11.
Jets 82, Five Arrows 67
In Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, the expansion Jets improved to 5-1 despite allowing 30 fourth-quarter points to Takamatsu.
Fourteen Jets players participated in the game; the Five Arrows used nine.
Maurice Hargrow led Chiba with 15 points, Kensuke Tanaka scored 11 and dished out four assists, while Jamel Staten scored 10 points.
Chiba coach Eric Gardow reflected on his team’s performance after the game. He told The Japan Times that “we are very pleased to be 5-1, however we now face a playoff atmosphere with Akita in that we play against each other four straight (games).
“We benefited from balanced minutes today and balanced production from our entire team. … Everyone contributed to these two wins in front of our home crowd and their families and friends.”
Takamatsu’s Masaaki Suzuki was the team’s top scorer with 15 points.
Hannaryz 80, Golden Kings 67
In Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Jermaine Boyette scored 27 points, including 8-for-10 on 2-point attempts and 8-for-8 at the charity stripe, as Kyoto bounced back from a four-point loss to record a series split.
Lee Cummard added 16 points and Rick Rickert scored 10 for the Hannaryz (3-3). Lance Allred grabbed 11 rebounds for Kyoto.
Jeff Newton paced the Golden Kings (4-2) with 20 points. Narito Namizato scored 13 and Dzaflo Larkai had 11. The Golden Kings were 4-for-25 on 3-point shots.
Evessa 70, Susanoo Magic 63
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Osaka’s strong defense carried the team to a two-game road sweep.
Lynn Washington sparked the Evessa with 24 points, including 11-for-12 at the foul line, and Daisuke Tamura added 13 points. Wayne Marshall scored nine and Lawrence Blackledge finished with 13 rebounds and three steals. Osaka improved to 5-1, tying the Shiga Lakestars for the best record in the Western Conference.
“It was a great two wins for our team on the road against a talented and much improved Shimane team,” said Evessa coach Ryan Blackwell, whose team won the opener 62-59. “We were lucky the first game to pull out the win after committing 23 turnovers.
“Our team defense was great again. In both games, we overcame double-digit deficits and held them to 59 and 63 points (in the two games). Lynn Washington especially did a great job holding Parker to 13 points on Sunday.”
He added: “Daisuke Tamara was a big spark for us offensively on Sunday coming off the bench to score 13 points and play solid defense.”
For Shimane (4-2), Reggie Golson had a 20-point afternoon and Parker scored 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting. Jumpei Nakama added eight points and five boards for the Susanoo Magic.
HeatDevils 92, Shining Suns 85
In Beppu, Oita Prefecture, first-year coach Yukinori Suzuki’s team completed a sweep over struggling Miyazaki.
T.J. Cummings, son of longtime NBA player Terry, Wendell White and Kohei Mitomo each scored 21 points for the HeatDevils (3-3). Matt Lottich added 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists and Naoto Takushi had 11 points and seven assists.
Dexter Lyons had 21 points for the Shining Suns. Darryl Dora scored 18 points and Taishiro Shimizu had 17.
Brave Warriors 88, Grouses 81
In Toyama, Derek Raivo had 22 points and nailed 5 of 7 3s and Lee Roberts contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two steals as Shinshu won both weekend contests against the Grouses.
Taketo Saito made four steals for the Brave Warriors (4-2), who had four players score in double figures.
For Toyama (2-4), Haakim Johnson was the leading scorer with 17 points and Masashi Joho had 14.