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Hamamatsu’s Dixon recognized for leadership as team climbs in standings

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

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.

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Editor’s note: Look for archives news and notes, features and columns on the bj-league on The Japan Times’ basketball page.