Chalk up a major victory for the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix’s front office. The Eastern Conference power improved to 5-0 since versatile forward Lawrence Blackledge joined the team.
The former Osaka Evessa standout had a major hand in the Phoenix’s 79-62 victory over the host Shimane Susanoo Magic on Saturday, finishing with 23 points, 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals.
Wayne Arnold scored 21 points and Jermaine Dixon and Shoji Nakanishi each scored 10 apiece as Hamamatsu improved to 19-10, the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The two-time defending champions held Shimane (17-12) to 23-for-65 shooting in the series opener. Michael Parker scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting. Edward Yamamoto sank four 3-pointers and scored 14 points, B.J. Puckett had 11 and Jeral Davis added nine points, 11 boards and three blocks. Reggie Golson had 10 points for the Magic.
Evessa 70, Lakestars 69
In Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, Osaka slowed down the high-scoring Lakestars en route to a narrow victory.
Masashi Obuchi and Wayne Marshall paced the Evessa (19-8) with 14 points apiece. Mike Bell added 13 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two assists and Cohey Aoki poured in 10 points, while Lynn Washington had nine points, 12 boards, five assists and two steals. Former All-Star Game MVP Bobby St. Preux had five points and five rebounds in his Osaka debut, playing 16-plus minutes off the bench.
The Evessa improved to 12-3 on the road.
Yu Okada flushed five 3s and scored a team-best 22 points for Shiga (18-11). Julius Ashby scored 13 points and Takamichi Fujiwara and newcomer Bryant Markson had 10 points, his best outing in five games with the club.
The Lakestars shot 25-for-73 from the field in the loss.
Golden Kings 88, Five Arrows 58
In Okinawa City, Western Conference-leading Ryukyu overwhelmed Takamatsu and made it look easy.
The Five Arrows (2-27) trailed 43-17 at halftime.
Naoto Kosuge buried five 3-pointers and led the Golden Kings’ balanced scoring attack with 21 points. Anthony McHenry added 15 points and 11 rebounds and Dillion Sneed and Morihisa Yamauchi each had 13 points for coach Dai Oketani’s squad. David Palmer scored 10 points and Jeff Newton hauled in 12 rebounds for Ryukyu (23-6). Sneed also had 15 rebounds and five steals.
Kevin Smith scored 15 points for Takamatsu.
Hannaryz 97, Rizing 74
In Kyoto, five players scored in double figures for the hosts in a one-sided win over flu-stricken Fukuoka.
Lee Cummard led Kyoto (20-7) with 16 points, Lance Allred had 15 points and 18 rebounds, Babacar Camara poured in 14 and Taizo Kawabe scored 12. The Hannaryz dished out 27 assists.
Kyoto won the battle on the boards, grabbing 55 rebounds to the Rizing’s 30.
Only seven players saw court time for Fukuoka (18-11). Kevin Palmer scored a team-high 21 points and Carlos Dixon had 19. Jermaine Dearman and Jun Nakanishi each had 10 points.
The Rizing were 3-for-21 from 3-point range.
Jets 103, Broncos 84
In Chiba, Jamel Staten scored 26 points, Maurice Hargrow poured in 22 and raked in 10 rebounds and Tomoya “Chomo” Nakamura had nine points and six rebounds on his 29th birthday as the Jets pounded Saitama and earned a series split.
Antoine Broxsie had 18 points, including four stuffs, against his former club, and grabbed eight rebounds for Chiba (12-16). Takaki Ishida scored a season-high 16 points for the first-year franchise.
John “Helicopter” Humphrey led Saitama (8-20) with 19 points and John Flowers scored 18. Jayme Miller added 15 points and Kenny Satterfield rebounded from a zero-point outing on Friday by scoring 12 points and dishing out eight assists.
“I’m pleased with the win, disappointed with the split,” Jets coach Eric Gardow told The Japan Times.
“After leading after three quarters yesterday and playing seven great quarters of basketball this weekend, it was unfortunate we were blistered in the fourth quarter yesterday with some ridiculous shenanigans,” he added.
“We are happy to have Antoine Broxsie as a Chiba Jet and we are excited about the remaining half of the season as we hope to position ourselves in the playoffs.”
Thanks to Broxsie’s presence inside — he had 11 blocks in his first two games in a Jets uniform — Hargrow and Staten are able to operate more effectively on both ends of the floor, Gardow said.
“The pieces are now coming together. For example, it was the first time for many things for us in our game that have not happened all year,” Gardow pointed out, including shooting 40 percent from 3-point range and (nearly) 50 percent from 2-point range (27-for-55, or 49.1 percent) and 66 percent (16-for-24) from the free-throw line in the same game.
Chiba’s 23 assists and nine turnovers were a key factor in the team’s strong play, which included outscoring Saitama 24-6 in the second quarter.
“Chomo gave us great effort today on his birthday, a big lift in the second quarter,” Gardow added.
The Broncos will look to regroup before taking on the visiting Miyazaki Shining Suns next weekend.
“Saitama is a better team than their record shows,” Gardow said. “They will beat a lot of teams before the season is over.”
B-Corsairs 79, Big Bulls 64
In Mizusawa, Iwate Prefecture, Marcus Simmons scored 17 points, Masayuki Kabaya, Pape Mour Faye and Justin Burrell all had 12-point outings and Yokohama made good halftime adjustments to earn a win over the hosts.
“After a rough first half where we didn’t take care of the ball and had some ill-advised shots, we settled down in the second half and were able to get some distance between us,” Yokohama coach Reggie Geary said after his team improved to 15-14. “We had good balanced scoring with five players in double figures.
“Having (recently injured center) Chas McFarland back on the floor and new addition Draelon Burns (five points) for limited minutes as that gets more comfortable was nice. … Tomorrow we’ll have to play better if we hope to be victorious.”
Gordon Klaiber was Iwate’s top scorer with 14 points and Thomas Kennedy scored 11. Makoto Sawaguchi added nine points and five steals for the Big Bulls (7-22).
89ers 80, Albirex BB 73
In Niigata, Dan Fitzgerald scored 31 points for Sendai and the out-of-towners survived Nile Murry’s 20-point, fourth-quarter outburst to beat the Albirex before a packed house on a frigid winter night.
“Except for the Nile Murray show in the fourth quarter we did a good job of sticking with the game plan at both ends,” Sendai coach Bob Pierce said after the game.
Murry sank five fourth-quarter 3s and finished with 25 points for Niigata (16-13).
“They were behind, so he just kept putting it up. We couldn’t believe some of the shots went in, but he was on fire,” Pierce said of Murry.
Sendai hung on for a win and improved to 14-15. The 89ers’ Johnny Dukes had a solid all-around game: 11 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots. Takuya Komoda scored nine points and Takehiko Shimura (eight points, six assists, three steals) and Rashaad Singleton (eight points, seven blocks) made key contributions in the victory, while longtime 89ers Hikaru Kusaka and Kenichi Takahashi scored seven and six points, respectively.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of moving the ball on offense, with six players between six and 11 points, which shows we were finding the open man,” Pierce said. “And we just tried to match up quickly on defense and make it hard to score.”
Sendai had 24 field goals and 20 assists.
Grouses 86, HeatDevils 73
In Uozu, Toyama Prefecture, Brian Harper’s 29 points led the hosts to a victory over Oita.
Devin Searcy had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Masashi Joho scored 16 points with five assists. Takeshi Mito added 11 points for the Grouses (14-13).
T.J. Cummings paced the HeatDevils (8-21) with 27 points, Wendell White scored 15 and Matt Lottich had 13.
Northern Happinets 80, Brave Warriors 73
In Saku, Nagano Prefecture, Akita scored 52 second-half points in a win over Shinshu.
Ricky Woods had 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Happinets (18-11) and Mychal Kearse had 17 points, Yuki Kikuchi scored 16 and E.J. Drayton had 12 for the revamped Akita squad.
Derek Raivio scored 23 points for the Brave Warriors (11-18). Edward Morris finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Takato Saito contributed 10 points, six assists and four steals. Shinshu committed 22 turnovers.