YOKOHAMA – To qualify for the playoffs, the Yokohama B-Corsairs will probably need to play .500 ball for the remainder of the season. Of course, every victory is a step in that direction.
Coach Reggie Geary’s expansion club displayed patience, poise and consistent effort in a gritty 73-66 victory over the Shimane Susanoo Magic before a sparse crowd at Yokohama International Swimming Pool on Friday night.
Shimane faced an 11-point deficit with just over 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Facing tight defense, the Susanoo Magic (17-14) had few easy looks on the offensive end, as Yokohama’s defense held its own and different B-Corsairs players took turns giving the offense a spark.
Yokohama’s Kenji Yamada, a 9.1 points-per-game scorer, buried a 3-pointer to make it 67-55 near the 5:20 mark. After Magic guard Tatsuhiro Yokoo’s jumper cut it to 67-57, Shimane’s next possession ended with a 24-second violation.
But Shimane found ways to score points on its next two trips down the floor, getting a high lob to Davis for an easy deuce and a Michael Parker layup to make it a six-point (67-61) game. Marcus Simmons then provided a little insurance for Yokohama, scoring inside as the lead extended to 69-61 with about 3 minutes left.
The lead held up and Yokohama improved to 16-15.
“Obviously, we were pretty happy about the tempo and pace of the game,” Geary told reporters. He said the defense maintained its strong form throughout the game.
“This was like a playoff atmosphere at this stage of the season.”
Justin Burrell paced the B-Corsairs with 20 points and Kenji Yamada scored 19 with five assists. Masayuki Kabaya, the team captain, had nine points and Chas McFarland added eight points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
Parker, guarded closely by Simmons, led Shimane with 18 points, Davis had 16, Yokoo scored 12 and Reggie Golson added 10. The Magic were 6-for-8 from the free-throw line in a physical game, and only attempted one foul shot in the fourth quarter.
“They played good,” Shimane coach Zeljko Pavlicevic said of the B-Corsairs, declining to speak in specifics about the officiating. “It’s nothing against Yokohama, which played with good energy.”
Geary commended the defensive tenacity exhibited by Simmons.
“I hope people start believing me when I say Marcus Simmons is the best defender in the league,” Geary said.
Golson had seven of Shimane’s 18 turnovers. Limiting Golson’s productivity was a key aspect of the hosts’ defensive game plan, Geary said, noting Burrell had an effective game guarding him.
Above all, he said, his defense’s key was “taking individual pride in individual matchups.”
Early in the third quarter, Yokohama used a 9-0 run to six-point advantage. Following a Shimane timeout, Davis gave his club a quick lift, nailing a hook shot and a turnaround jumpber. But the B-Corsairs roared right back and increased their lead to 48-39 after Pape Mour Faye’s running hook shot.
With 2:01 remaining in the third quarter, the game took an abrupt turn when Parker hit the floor on a layup attempt as he was fouled hard by Burrell. A flagrant foul was called on Burrell. Tempers flared on both benches and from on-court players.
Moments later, Magic guard Edward Yamamoto sank a mid-range jumper just before the buzzer sounded to account for the final third-quarter points.
Shimane trailed 54-51 entering the fourth quarter.
Simmons, a USC product, said his team “picked up (the intensity) in the third quarter . . . and scored enough to maintain it and come out with the victory.”
Yokohama led for the entire first quarter, jumping to a 6-0 lead to start the game, but Shimane played a competitive quarter.
Golson led the offensive attack with precision passes and got his teammates involved. The Magic cut it to 17-14 on a Parker layup set up beautifully by a block at the other end by Davis.
The hosts held a 21-16 advantage entering the second quarter after making 10 of 15 shots from the field in the opening stanza and holding a 12-5 rebounding edge over the out-of-towners. Burrell was 4-for-4 from the field for eight points and Kabaya was 3-for-3 as Yokohama’s offense looked sharp in the early going.
Shimane tied it at 23-23 on Davis’ forceful putback, a one-handed rebound and slam in a swift, forceful motion. Parker then canned two 3s to make it 29-23.
The B-Corsairs closed out the half on a 9-4 spurt, including Simmons’ hard-earned three-point play and his second of two free throws on the hosts’ next trip down the floor after crashing the boards and creating a second scoring chance for his teammates, to pull within 33-32.
Burrell had 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting before the break. McFarland had nine rebounds to help the B-Corsairs grab 27 against 17 for the Magic.
Parker scored 12 points in a helter-skelter half for his club. Shimane’s 14-for-35 shooting enabled Yokohama to keep it close despite an up-and-down performance of its own.