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HeatDevils, Phoenix end long streaks

by Staff Report

The Oita HeatDevils snapped an eight-game losing streak and the two-time defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix had their nine-game winning streak end in the bj-league on Friday.

Oita defeated the visiting Yokohama B-Corsairs 83-67. Kohei Mitomo and T.J. Cummings each scored 20 points for the HeatDevils (4-11) and backup center Zach Atkinson capitalized on his season-high 31 minutes by having season-best totals in points (17) and rebounds (12). Matt Lottich added 11 points and Cummings grabbed 10 rebounds for coach Yukinori Suzuki’s club.

Chas McFarland and Justin Burrell paced the B-Corsairs (5-8) with 13 points apiece. Marcus Simmons scored 11 points and Kenji Yamada had nine.

Led by star Kevin Palmer’s 42-point, 14-rebound performance, the host Rizing Fukuoka defeated the Phoenix 101-98 in overtime. Jun Nakanishi added 22 points for Fukuoka (9-6), Akitomo Takeno scored 18 and Gary Hamilton had 14 rebounds and six assists.

For the Phoenix (9-6), Wayne Arnold was the top scorer (22 points) and Jeffrey Parmer and Herve Lamizana each scored 13.

Also Friday, the Osaka Evessa bounced back from a series-opening defeat to hand the host Chiba Jets a 77-67 loss.

The Evessa (12-4) had lost their previous three games. Wayne Marshall had a double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Cohey Aoki added 17 points and five assists for Osaka, while Lawrence Blackledge finished with 16 points, 19 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. For Chiba (9-7), Maurice Hargrow, Jamel Staten and Hiroki Sato had 14 points apiece and newcomer Jamal Holden scored 12.

After the game, Chiba coach Eric Gardow said his team wasn’t aggressive enough in the series finale, which was not the case in Chiba’s 75-59 win on Thursday.

“We struggled to match their energy today,” Gardow told The Japan Times. “(It was) the opposite game from yesterday, obviously.”

Gardow said Blackledge’s all-around effort and Aoki’s clutch free-throw shooting (9-for-9) were keys for the Evessa.

He added: “I felt like we let this one get away.” But perhaps Chiba gained something in defeat, Gardow admitted, citing Sato’s season-best 14-point effort, which may be a breakthrough performance for him while suiting up for the first-year franchise.

“Great game for Hiroki,” the coach concluded. “We need that more from him.”