David Palmer canned a game-winning 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to give the visiting Ryukyu Golden Kings a pulse-rising 80-78 victory over the two-time defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix on Saturday night in the bj-league.
The game was the first regular-season meeting between the teams since Hamamatsu’s 14-point victory in last year’s championship match in May at Ariake Colosseum.
Here’s how one Tohoku-based observer, who often watches several games a week on BJTV, summed up the rematch’s final stretch in an email to The Japan Times: “Big play after big play. Back and forth! Wow! David with the HUGE three! And then a TO (timeout) in the last 4 seconds. Finals preview?”
Maybe so. The Phoenix lead the Eastern Conference with a 20-11 record. Their six-game win streak was snapped by the Golden Kings, who lead the Western Conference with a league-best 25-6 record, including 14-3 in away contests.
Naoto Kosuge, the 2007-08 All-Star Game MVP, led Ryukyu with 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting and Palmer, one of the first bj-league standouts to suit up for an NBA Development League team (Dakota Wizards, 2007-08) poured in 14. Narito Namizato had 11 points and five assists, Jeff Newton added 10 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, while Dillion Sneed scored nine and hauled in 11 rebounds.
For the Phoenix, Wayne Arnold had 16 points and Jermaine Dixon scored 14 points and handed out six assists. Shoji Nakanishi chipped in with 10 points, Masahiro Oguchi, Kenya Tomori and Gyno Pomare all scored eight points and Lawrence Blackledge had a six-point game.
The Phoenix led 43-41 entering the third quarter in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.
Despite a 25-turnover game, Ryukyu pulled out a win. The Kings’ 61-36 advantage in rebounds was one factor that produced a win.
B-Corsairs 84, Susanoo Magic 71
In Yokohama, Justin Burrell scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Pape Mour Faye notched a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds), while newcomer Draelon Burns had 16 points, including 4-for-7 on 3-pointers, with six assists as the B-Corsairs completed a series sweep.
Yokohama improved to 17-15, while Shimane’s record slipped to 17-15.
With the win, the B-Corsairs, coached by ex-NBA guard Reggie Geary, moved into third place in the 10-team Eastern Conference.
The series, at Yokohama International Swimming Pool, was the first between the clubs.
Masayuki Kabaya scored 11 points and Marcus Simmons had eight for the B-Corsairs, who travel to face the Golden Kings next weekend in Okinawa.
The B-Corsairs led 38-34 at halftime.
Edward Yamamoto and Michael Parker paced the Magic with 17 points apiece. B.J. Puckett added 15 points and Tatsuhiro Yokoo had 10 for Shimane. Parker, the three-time reigning league scoring champion, attempted eight of Shimane’s 11 fouls shots. To several observers, it was a one-sided series in terms of foul calls, giving Yokohama a competitive edge. But, on the other hand, the Magic didn’t help their cause by shooting 4-for-15 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Yokohama held Shimane’s Reggie Golson and Jeral Davis to a combined 12 points, taking away a big chunk of the team’s frontcourt scoring.
In addition, the B-Corsairs had 44 rebounds to the Magic’s 33, including a 17-12 edge on the offensive glass.
89ers 81, Northern Happinets 67
In Akita, former Happinets coach Bob Pierce’s new team hammered the hosts in the series opener.
The game basically boiled down to this: Akita newcomer Kyle Swanston didn’t make enough 3s to keep the Happinets in the game. Swanston was 2-for-12 from 3-point range and 5-for-24 overall in a 20-point outing. Mychal Kearse had 18 points, E.J. Drayton scored 11 and Yuki Kikuchi nine for Akita (18-13).
Sendai (16-15) won its third straight game and fourth in its last five contests.
Dan Fitzgerald had 31 points and 10 rebounds for the 89ers, one-man wrecking crew Johnny Dukes added 14 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Takehiko “Take” Shimura and Takuya Komoda each scored eight points, with Shimura dishing out four assists. Komoda, who’s seen his role expand in recent weeks, was 4-for-7 from the field.
Akita star Ricky Woods played only 6 minutes, 1 second. He was injured early in the game when he slipped during a fast break. He finished with one point.
The Happinets shot 16-for-26 at the line and 7-for-31 from 3-point range while making 22 of 37 shots from inside the arc.
Pierce said his club did “a great job of staying with the game plan.”
He added: “We moved the ball — nine players scored — and we shot high-percentage shots.”
Indeed, the 89ers shot the ball at a 75 percent clip from 2-point range in the opening half (15-for-20). As a result, Sendai led 53-42 after two quarters.
Pierce described the rest of the game as a “defensive second half, with big contributions from Hikaru (Kusaka) and Filip (Toncinic).”
For Sendai, the victory showcased the team’s improved all-around play and balance at both ends of the floor.
“First of all, Take and Hikaru did a pretty good job of controlling the tempo and calling plays,” Pierce said. “We have lots of plays, but before each game we talk about which plays to call that day, as well as when and why, and we did a good job of sticking with those.
“Johnny and Dan both do a good job of deciding when to look for their shot, and when to find their teammates,” Pierce added. “Johnny had seven assists, which speaks to the fact that he is always looking for someone getting open or cutting to the basket.”
A lesson in history proves that Sendai has good models to emulate.
“The (1969-70) NBA championship New York Knicks with Walt Frazier, Dick Barnett, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, and Willis Reed is sort of the blueprint in the back of my mind for what I hope to put out there on the court,” Pierce said. “With a dash of Magic’s Showtime Lakers, the Marquette Warriors with Butch Lee, Tom Izzo’s (Michigan State) Spartans, a touch of Drazen Petrovic, and as much Dejan Bodiroga as we can find.”
Shining Suns 91, Broncos 72
In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, led by Dexter Lyons’ 18-point effort, Miyazaki clobbered the hosts in the series opener.
The Shining Suns, a second-year franchise, improved to 14-17. Saitama, one of the league’s original clubs in 2005 that has never had a winning season, fell to 8-21, including 4-11 at home.
Ex-Bronco Taishiro Shimizu, a fan favorite in Saitama, had 17 points and seven assists for Miyazaki, Tsubasa Yonezawa scored 16 and O’Neal Mims and Darryl Dora each had 12. Dora added nine boards and six assists. Mims had nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
John Flowers scored a team-high 25 points for Saitama. John “Helicopter” Humphrey had 17 points and 10 boards and James Porter added 10 points and 10 rebounds. League assist leader Kenny Satterfield did not play for the Broncos due to an injury.
Saitama missed 24 of 29 3s. Flowers, who was 2-for-9 from long distance, is now 31-for-115 ons 3s (27 percent on the season).
Hannaryz 84, Lakestars 63
In Kyoto, 10 players put points on the board for the Hannaryz in a one-sided win over Shiga.
Rick Rickert and Lance Allred had 14 points apiece as Kyoto improved to 21-8, the same record as Osaka. Both teams trail Ryukyu in the West standings.
Babacar Camara scored 12 points and Kyosuke Setoyama had 11 for the Hannaryz, who turned the ball over only seven times. Jermaine Boyette poured in eight points and Lee Cummard had seven points and five assists, while Sunao Murakami had four assists.
For Shiga (18-13), Dionisio Gomez was the lone double-digit scorer (20 points). Yu Okada added nine. Josh Peppers, averaging 15.1 points per game, is sidelined with a calf injury.
Rizing 88, Grouses 78
In Toyama, Kevin Palmer scored 29 points and Carlos Dixon had 23 as Fukuoka gave Atsushi Kanazawa a victory in his Rizing head coaching debut.
Jermaine Dearman had 11 points, Jun Nakanishi scored nine and Gary Hamilton finished with eight points and 14 boards for Fukuoka (20-11), which fired coach Tadaharu Ogawa earlier in the week.
Masashi Joho led the Grouses (15-14) with 22 points, including 5-for-10 on 3s. Toyama’s Brian Harper had 20 points, Devin Searcy scored 18 and Ira Brown 16.
HeatDevils 104, Jets 80
In Oita, T.J. Cummings had 31 points and 18 rebounds and Wendell White’s 22-point, 16-rebound, seven-assist, two-steal, one-block performance led the hosts to a victory over Chiba.
Matt Lottich scored 15 points, Taj Finger had 12 points and 10 boards and Kohei Mitomo added 11 points for Oita (9-22). Naoto Takushi dished out six assists for the HeatDevils, who were 23-for-27 at the charity stripe.
Jamel Staten paced the Jets (12-17) with 20 points and 13 rebounds, Maurice Hargrow scored 15 points, Antoine Broxsie had 12 points, 12 boards and five assists and Hiroki Sato scored nine points.
The HeatDevils outscored the Jets 33-17 in the fourth quarter.
Big Bulls 65, Albirex BB 57
In Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, the hosts held Niigata to less than 20 points in all four quarters en route to victory.
In a low-scoring contest, Iwate led 30-26 at halftime.
Thomas Kennedy scored a team-best 15 points with nine rebounds for the Big Bulls (9-22), who climbed out of last place in the East. (The Broncos are currently at the bottom of the 10-team conference.)
Hard-working forward Shawn Malloy had 13 points and 11 boards, Yoshiaki Yamamoto scored 12 points and Gordon Klaiber had 11.
Big man Chris Holm scored 14 points and raked in 13 rebounds for Niigata (16-15 overall, 7-8 on the road). Kimitake Sato (nine points) was the Albirex’s second-leading scorer. Coach Matt Garrison’s club shot 21-for-68 from the field.