YOKOHAMA – First-year coach Honoo Hamaguchi brought discipline, a commitment to excellence and a pair of big-time big men to the Kyoto Hannaryz for the team’s third season.
Ex-NBA center Lance Allred and former Minnesota Timberwolves draft pick Rick Rickert, both standing 211 cm, added size and a knack for high- and low-post play, which has given the team a balanced offensive attack and enhanced its perimeter shooting and motion offense.
Kyoto’s first-ever game against the Yokohama B-Corsairs showcased those elements, as well as strong rebounding, free-throw shooting and passing in an 87-65 win on Friday at Yokohama International Swimming Pool.
The Hannaryz’s well-polished execution in their half-court sets, height advantage and overall experience was tough for Yokohama to overcome in the bj-league series opener.
Entering the fourth quarter, Kyoto led 61-48. The hosts had led only once, 2-0, after Justin Burrell’s game-opening bucket. With 5:45 left, the B-Corsairs trailed 70-54 after Chas McFarland, a Wake University product, had converted two free throws. Seconds later, he fouled out.
Draelon Burns led Yokohama with 13 points and Masayuki Kabaya and Justin Burrell both had 12 for the hosts.
Kyoto shot 9-for-13 from 3-point range, getting a game-high 16 points from Jermaine Boyette and 14 from Taizo Kawabe, who was 4-for-4 on 3s. Rickert scored and Lee Cummard scored 12 apiece and Allred added 10. Kyosuke Setoyama handed out a team-high five assists.
In Kyoto’s offense, “you kind of have to take a bullet and sacrifice your own stats just to make sure you can win,” Allred said, pointing out the team is trying to win its first series for the first time in a month. “And hopefully we can get back to that winning momentum. . . . We’ve had a little bit of transition with injuries and stuff to deal with, but I think we are getting that under control.”
But a win brings a smile and puts the team in the right mind-set.
“I thought we played a good game,” Hamaguchi told reporters. He said the team’s first-quarter momentum pushed the team to victory.
Kyoto improved to 25-12, as Hamaguchi, who led the Sendai 89ers to four straight winning seasons and six seasons overall before joining the Hannaryz, prepares his team for a run at the title this spring For the B-Corsairs (19-20), the team fell back into the loss column after a series-closing win over the Osaka Evessa on Sunday.
Geary issued the following remarks after the loss: “I thought Kyoto from the very first second took the fight to us, was very physical . . . Coming into it we knew rebounding would be very important . . . (Being outrebounded) 45-30 was too big a margin for us to recover from.
Said Draelon Burns, “I don’t know what happened. . . . The first quarter got away from us.”
Moments later, Geary was the focal point of the post-game interview
“We are still a young team . . . still fighting for respect, and we knew this was going to be a tough part of our schedule,” he said, responding to a question about two players (McFarland and Marcus Simmons fouling out).
Kyoto trained a pair of 3s — a shot clock-beating dagger from Boyette and another by Naoto Nakamura — in the early going.
The Hannaryz led 10-4 after a Rickert putback, and 12-6 after Boyette scored on a lob inside. After a B-Corsairs turnover, Allred converted a layup at the other end to make it 14-6, and the hosts called a timeout at the 6:15 mark.
Rickert stretched the lead to 10 after sinking two free throws at the 4:56 mark.
Boyette drained two free throws and the Hannaryz surged to a 24-8 lead with 3:03 left in the opening quarter.
Geary called his second timeout of the quarter, with a 28-10 deficit.
Kyoto led by as many as 24 points in the opening quarter. Then Masayuki Kabaya buried a 3 in the closing seconds to account for the quarter’s final points to make it 34-13 in the visitors’ favor.
Yokohama had six turnovers in the first stanza. The Hannaryz were 9-for-10 at the line in the quarter, while Yokohama had zero free-throw attempts. What’s more, Kyoto was 11-for-15 from the field in the period, including 3-for-4 from 3-point land.
In the second quarter, the Kyoto rout continued. Taizo Kawabe canned a spot-up 3 as the Hannaryz took a 39-17 advantage with 4:57 left before the half.
Satoshi Hisayama nailed a 3 for Yokahama to cut it to 39-22, and after a Kenji Yamada steal, Burrell earned a trip to the charity stripe on an aggressive drive to the lane. He made one of two to trim it to 39-23.
Free-throw woes slowed down the B-Corsairs’ comeback efforts in the second quarter. They were 3-for-9 in the second stanza.
Kabaya sank a 3 to make it 41-30, and Kawabe countered with a rainbow 3 to bring it back to a 14-point lead. Sunao Murakami made two free throws with 1.6 seconds, and Kyoto walked into the locker room with a 46-30 lead.
Kawabe’s hot shooting — 3-for-3 from beyond the arc — keyed his game-high 11 points in the opening half and Rickert had 10, while Boyette scored nine.
Burrell was Yokohama’s high scorer in the first half with 10 points.
McFarland, seen speaking to game officials as other players took warmup shots before the second half commenced, picked up three fouls in 5:35.
Though Yokohama’s defense was scrappy and hard-working, it appeared a half-step too slow during key moments in the game as Kyoto busted loose for open jumpers.
“We got smacked in the mouth in the first quarter,” was how Geary described his team’s big deficit early on.
On the other bench, Hamaguchi, spoke about the appreciation he has on the eve of March 11, as he took the reins with a different club after a long tenure in Sendai.