With floor leader Jermaine Dixon providing inspired, smart leadership, the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix rediscovered their mojo in November, winning seven of their eight bj-league games.
Dixon is The Japan Times’ Offensive Player of the Month for November, an honor selected a week late this year. He averaged 18.6 points and 4.9 assists, also grabbing 6.1 rebounds per game to show his all-around versatility.
Hamamatsu, now 9-7, lost its one November game by two points — 81-79 to the Saitama Broncos. The two-time defending champions are again a threat to reach the Final Four with Dixon, a former University of Pittsburgh standout, back on the squad.
Rizing Fukuoka star Kevin Palmer, now averaging a league-best 23.9 points per game also garnered serious consideration for this award. He scored 17 or more points in eight November games, including a 36-point outburst against Takamatsu.
Defensive award: The delayed announcement is this: Osaka Evessa forward Lawrence Blackledge was chosen as The Japan Times’ Defensive Player of the Month for November.
A long, lean tenacious defender out of Marquette University, Blackledge, in his second year in Japan, is No. 2 in the league in rebounds (10.9 per game, including 73 defensive boards in November). He’s also second in blocked shots (3.2).
The Evessa went 6-2 in November, when Blackledge stuffed the stat sheet with 22 blocks and seven steals while regularly guarding the opponent’s top player.
Several other players, including guards Kenji Yamada of the Yokohama B-Corsairs (11 steals in six November games) and Jun Nakanishi of the Rizing Fukuoka (18 November steals, including back-to-back games of four and seven on Nov. 19 and 20) were considered for the award.
Editor’s note: Look for archives news and notes, features and columns on the bj-league on The Japan Times’ basketball page.