SAITAMA – Jeral Davis’ intimidating defense and Michael Parker’s scoring prowess powered the Shimane Susanoo Magic to a runaway victory over the Saitama Broncos in the series opener.
In their Sunday rematch, perennial All-Star Parker again had a major hand in Shimane’s 71-67 victory, and his teammates made enough key plays to carry the Magic to a hard-earned road sweep.
Shimane’s free-throw shooting woes (6-for-16) gave Saitama ample opportunities to pull ahead, but the Broncos comeback fell short at Saitama Municipal Gymnasium.
With the victory, former Japan national team coach Zeljko Pavlicevic’s club is currently in sixth place in the ultra-tough Western Conference. At 17-11, the Susanoo Magic, in their second season, have the same record as the Eastern Conference’s second place club, the Akita Northern Happinets.
In addition to his game-high scoring output, which included three dunks, Parker filled the stat sheet with 12 rebounds, four steals, three assists and a blocked shot. Davis, who scored seven points, swatted four shots after a jaw-dropping 11-block night (a league record) in the opener. Forward Reggie Golson added 16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals, and showed patience and hoop smarts while frequently drawing the double team.
Longtime Tokyo Apache guard Jumpei Nakama scored seven points in 20 effective minutes and Edward Yamamoto (six points, five assists) and Tatsuhiro Yokoo (six points) rounded out the scoring for the Magic.
Pavlicevic said Parker and Golson gave his team a big boost on a day when every point was critical. The team’s 54-44 rebounding edge and 24 offensive rebounds created numerous second-chance scoring opportunities, he noted.
“But we can do better,” Pavlicevic said.
Having won a pair of Euroleague titles in a distinguished coaching career, Pavlicevic’s eye for talent is an important trait, and his ability to judge players’ performances from past seasons and current times helps him make scouting reports and adjust the Xs and Os in a given game. That said, Saitama guard Kenny Satterfield (five points, three assists) is not at the top of his game, Pavlicevic observed, saying, “Satterfield, he isn’t in good shape. If he’s in better shape, that’s better (for Saitama).”
Before the Magic’s trek back to Shimane Prefecture, Golson stated his team’s weekend performance was a big accomplishment.
“It’s hard to play two games in a row back-to-back as defenses make adjustments . . . but overall it was good,” Golson said. “We played good defensively, got some steals and got some rebounds to win the game.”
“It felt good to come out here to the East and get some wins,” he added.
Forward John Flowers had team-high totals in points (21) and rebounds (13) for the Broncos (7-19), while John Humphrey scored 16 and Jayme Miller had 12.
Broncos coach Natalie Nakase said she was pleased with the aggressive offensive mind-set of Flowers and Miller going up against Davis.
“The game plan was to bring Davis a little more out of his comfort zone (in the paint) where to block, get him a little off-balance and they attacked him today and did a great job,” Nakase said.
Trailing 70-67, the Broncos called a a timeout with 24.7 seconds remaining. Seconds later, Flowers’ pass was picked off by Parker, who seemed to be in the right place at the right time for every one of his 38 minutes and 29 seconds of playing time. Parker, the bj-league’s three-time reigning scoring champion, was fouled and stepped to the line with a chance to make it a two-possession game, but missed both shots with 17.3 seconds to play.
“In a play like that in the last minute, where there’s pressure, it comes down to committing to making a great play. I believe in all my players making great plays, in all five of them that were out there,” Nakase said. “It’s just unfortunate that he (Flowers) made the wrong pass, and Parker made a great play.”
The Broncos’ next offensive sequence failed to produce any points, and Yamamoto sank the second of two free throws to account for the game’s final point with 3.7 seconds left. Satterfield’s 3-pointer missed its target at the buzzer.
“I thought the Broncos played a lot harder today than we did yesterday,” Nakase said. “I was pleased with our effort. Shimane did a great job finishing at the end.”
Saitama trailed 62-54 after three quarters, the last of the quarter’s points coming as Parker slammed in a putback. And a 12-2 Shimane run that extended into the final period saw the Broncos face a 67-54 deficit after a Golson 3-pointer.
But Saitama fought back, getting timely 3-point shots and a Satterfield layup to fuel an 11-0 run and cut it to 67-65 with just under 5 minutes remaining.
After a Golson foul shot pushed the lead to three, Parker buried an off-balance jumper despite Humphrey’s tight defense. That pushed the lead back to five, 70-65.
“Parker plays with a lot of effort, probably the most effort in this league,” Nakase said, “and he utilizes his effort, and he’s very smart, has a very high basketball IQ. We haven’t faced anyone like him yet. Most of the players with high numbers will be more like isolation (specialists), so for us it’s a little bit of inexperience. So at the same time we just have to do a better job of just being more alert. . . . Those adjustments were made at times, but we didn’t commit enough to them.”
Earlier, Saitama had used a 10-2 spurt to pull within 37-34 late in the first half. After back-to-back scoring plays by Parker, Miller cut it to 41-37 for the final points of the opening half.
Parker had 18 points by halftime, and Shimane’s offense was in sync, with 13 assists on 18 first-half buckets.
B-Corsairs 79, Northern Happinets 72
In Yokohama, Kenji Yamada scored 18 points, Justin Burrell added 17 points and 12 rebounds and Masayuki Kabaya sank 4 of 7 3-point shots en route to 16 points as the hosts swept Akita.
The B-Corsairs (14-14) outscored the visitors 30-14 in the fourth quarter. Marcus Simmons added 11 points and a team-high five assists for the victors
Ricky Woods paced the Happinets (17-11) with 19 points, Mychal Kearse had 17 and Kazuhiro Shoji poured in 16.
“The team had another good performance today with a hard-fought victory over a determined Akita team,” Yokohama coach Reggie Geary said. “Good balanced scoring with strong performances by Kaba, Justin, Marcus and Kenji.”
After the big win for the first-year franchise, Geary summed up the game this way: “Huge fourth quarter with solid play on both ends.”
Jets 85, 89ers 75
In Sendai, Chiba picked up its first win of 2012 and earned a series split.
Maurice Hargrow led the Jets (11-15) with 27 points with eight rebounds and six assists. Jamel Staten scored 21 points and raked in 15 rebounds and Takaki “Isshi” Ishida scored 13 points.
Chiba coach Eric Gardow said the combined contributions of center Gaston Moliva (seven points, 12 rebounds), forward Reina Itakura (nine points, four rebounds, two steals) and Ishida did not go unnoticed, calling the trio the team’s key performers on the afternoon.
“We feel real fortunate to split,” Gardow said. “We almost forgot what a win feels like and it came at the right time.”
“Obviously Hargrow and Staten had a great weekend. The difference for us today was the production from Isshi Reina and Moliva combining for 29 points and nine rebounds collectively gave us a win.”
The Jets were 29-for-37 at the free-throw line; Sendai was 10-for-15.
For Sendai (13-15), Johnny Dukes had 28 points and 13 rebounds, Takehiko Shimura scored 12 points with five assists and Dan Fitzgerald had 10 points.
“We made some great defensive adjustments in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter,” Gardow said.
“Isshi and Reina did a good job switching off and on Fitzgerald and when I asked Hargrow to defend Takehiko Shimura it really disrupted their flow offensively.”
Grouses 83, Five Arrows 55
In Takamatsu, after losing the series opener in overtime, Toyama blasted the Five Arrows in the rematch.
Brian Harper led Toyama (13-13) with 21 points, Haakim Johnson scored 18 and Masashi Joho continues to play the best all-around basketball of his career, with 16 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Michael Nunnally paced Takamatsu (2-26) with 14 points. The Five Arrows shot 20-for-73 from the field.
Rizing 82, Evessa 78
In Fukuoka, the Rizing edged Osaka in a battle of Western Conference rivals to salvage a series split.
Jermaine Dearman was Fukuoka’s top scorer with 18 points, followed by Kevin Palmer’s 17 and Jun Nakanishi’s 12. Gary Hamilton supplied 11 points and 13 boards for the Rizing (18-10), while Palmer made five steals.
Lynn Washington had 23 points for the Evessa (18-8) and Wayne Marshall scored 20 with 11 rebounds. Mike Bell added 13 points and 11 boards and Masashi Obuchi scored 11. Osaka was 11-for-19 at the foul line.
Hannaryz 66, HeatDevils 64
In Oita, Lee Cummard scored 16 points and Lance Allred put 15 on the board as Kyoto eked out a win over the hosts.
Allred, a former NBA center, had nine boards and two blocks for the Hannaryz (19-7), Rick Rickert produced a double-double (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Taizo Kawabe sank four 3s in a 12-point outing.
T.J. Cummings had 21 points for the HeatDevils (8-20), whose three-game win streak was halted. Wendell White scored 12 points and Naoto Takushi contributed 10 points, five assists and five steals. Taj Finger also poured in 10 points.
Shining Suns 68, Lakestars 67
In Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, O’Neal “Trey” Mims had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Dexter Lyons scored 16 as the hosts topped Shiga by the smallest of margins.
Miyazaki improved to 13-17.
Shiga, which won the series opener, fell to 18-10.
Ray Nixon and Yu Okada were joint top scorers for the Lakestars with 14 points apiece and Dionisio Gomez pumped in 12 points. Shiga shot 5-for-20 from 3-point range and Okada was 4-for-18 from the field in the loss.
Golden Kings ７5, Brave Warriors 56
In Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, Ryukyu’s tenacious defense fueled a one-sided win over Shinshu. The Golden Kings (22-6) held the Brave Warriors to 21-for-67 shooting, including 2-for-18 from beyond the arc.
Anthony McHenry had 15 points and five assists for Ryukyu. Jeff Newton added 14 points, 16 rebounds and three steals, while David Palmer scored 11 and Tsubasa Yonamine and Dillion Sneed each scored 10 as the Golden Kings completed the sweep.
Tyler Hughes had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Shinshu (11-17) and Edward Morris scored 11.