Nobody guaranteed that the Yokohama B-Corsairs would be a formidable foe in their inaugural season. To do so, the notion would’ve been instantly dismissed as an outrageous prediction by most hoop observers.
But the first-year team’s body of work with 46 games in the books suggests the B-Corsairs are a legitimate Final Four contender.
Coach Reggie Geary’s squad completed a weekend sweep over the Akita Northern Happinets on Sunday, winning 92-89 in overtime.
Draelon Burns paced Yokohama (25-21, tied for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference) with 28 points. What’s more, the B-Corsairs are 13-11 on the road.
B-Corsairs center Chas McFarland, who played at Wake Forest, the same school that introduced future NBA superstar Tim Duncan to a worldwide audience, sank the first of two free throws with 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to knot the score at 75-75. Neither team scored again in regulation.
Then, in OT, Yokohama held on defeat the pesky hosts.
McFarland finished with terrific numbers: 17 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots. Marcus Simmons scored 16 points, Masayuki Kabaya added 14 and Justin Burrell scored 11.
Kabaya has now scored in double digits in three consecutive games for the first time since mid-February.
The B-Corsairs outworked the Happinets on the boards, grabbing 68 rebounds to their 45.
Akita fell to 27-21 under first-year coach Kazuo Nakamura.
Ricky Woods paced the Happinets with 29 points, Kazuhiro Shoji and Shigehiro Taguchi both had 14 points, Kyle Swanston scored 12 but was 4-for-14 on 3s to reach that point total. E.J. Drayton chipped in with 10 points.
As has been the case throughout the season, Akita often lives and dies with the 3-point shot. In the series finale, the Northern Happinets shot 13-for-39 from beyond the arc.
Lakestars 103, Rizing 79
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Yu Okada was nearly unstoppable from the perimeter in a runaway win over Fukuoka.
Okada buried 5 of 6 3-point shots and scored a team-best 21 points for Shiga (30-16), which also won the opener.
Lakestars big man Julius Ashby added 18 points and 12 boards, Takamichi Fujiwara scored 17 points, Josh Peppers had 13 and Dionisio Gomez provided 10 points and nine boards for the victors.
Kevin Palmer led the Rizing (28-18) with 19 points, Jermaine Dearman scored 14 and Carlos Dixon, Jun Nakanishi and Gary Hamilton had 11 apiece. Hamilton also hauled in 13 rebounds.
Phoenix 78, 89ers 70 (OT)
In Sendai, veteran poise lifted two-time defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa to an overtime triumph over the 89ers.
Phoenix standout Wayne Arnold scored 20 points and dished out nine assists, none bigger than his pass to Lawrence Blackledge in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. Blackledge’s 3-pointer tied it at 60-60 and forced OT.
Shoji Nakanishi and Gyno Pomare both had 17-point afternoons for Hamamatsu (32-14, tops in the East). Blackledge finished with nine points, Masahiro Oguchi scored seven and Jeffrey Parmer, the league’s reigning regular-season and playoff MVP, scored one point on 0-for-7 shooting, but raked in 11 rebounds.
Johnny Dukes was Sendai’s leading scorer (24 points, 1-for-9 on 3s), Takuya Komoda had 17 points and made 4 of 7 3s, Rashaad Singleton added 12 points, seven boards, four steals and two blocks, while Filip Toncinic had nine points and 10 rebounds and Takehiko Shimura supplied eight points and six assists. Leading scorer Dan Fitzgerald missed his second straight game due to a knee injury.
After the game, 89ers coach Bob Pierce summed up the loss by saying, “This was a heartbreaker that’s going to hurt for awhile. Up 60-57 with 15 seconds to go it looked like we had bottled up all their potential shooters and the clock was going to run out, and then Blackledge got open and Arnold found him for the tying 3 with (2) seconds left.
“We missed lots of opportunities before that to take control of the game, going 3-for-12 on 2-point field goals in the fourth quarter, and any one of those misses could have been the margin for victory. Hamamatsu’s depth and experience wore us down in the overtime period. What looked liked a hard fought win with 0:02 on the clock turned into a tough loss.”
Sendai, which got a big fourth quarter from Singleton to win the series opener, fell to 24-22.
Evessa 103, Albirex BB 92
In Osaka, Mike Bell’s 33-point, 12-rebound, four-block effort with his parents in the crowd for the first time in Japan and Bobby St. Preux’s 20-point, 10-rebound game carried the hosts to a bounce-back win over Niigata.
Kevin Tyner added 16 points and six assists for the Evessa (31-15) and Cohey Aoki poured in 15 points. Satoshi Takeda scored 10 points and Shota Konno had eight, while Masashi Obuchi dished out nine assists.
Osaka drained 13 of 25 3s.
Ex-Evessa guard Nile Murry led Niigata (25-21) with 26 points, center Chris Holm had 18 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists and Yuichi Ikeda scored 14 points.
Hannaryz 73, Shining Suns 48
In Kyoto, Jermaine Boyette scored 20 points, Lee Cummard poured in 16 and the hosts overwhelmed short-handed Miyazaki.
Taizo Kawabe and Babacar Camara each had nine-point games for the Hannaryz (30-16).
Takuro Ito scored a season-high 22 points for the Shining Suns (20-26) and Tsubasa Yonezawa had 10.
HeatDevils 86, Brave Warriors 74
In Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Wendell White had 26 points and 12 rebounds and four teammates reached double figures in scoring as Oita bounced back from a Saturday defeat.
T.J. Cummings added 14 points for the HeatDevils (19-27), Taj Finger had 13, Naoto Takushi scored 11, Matt Lottich contributed 10 and Kohei Mitomo finished with eight.
Shinshu (18-28) missed 18 of 21 3-points shots. Lee Roberts, however, had a sensational game for the hosts, finishing with 25 points, 24 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Derek Raivio added 14 points and four assists, Takanori Goya scored 12 points and Takato Saito and Edward Morris each had nine.
Grouses 80, Golden Kings 64
In Okinawa City, poor shooting and sub-par rebounding doomed the hosts in a loss to Toyama.
Ryukyu (35-13) was 4-for-22 on 3s and 10-for-21 at the foul line. In addition, the Grouses out-rebounded the Kings 59-39.
Takeshi Mito finished with 19 points for the Grouses (24-22) and Larry Turner and Devin Searcy each had 18 and Brian Harper scored 13. Searcy and Ira Brown both grabbed 10 rebounds.
Jeff Newton led the Golden Kings with 12 points and Anthony McHenry scored 11.
Susanoo Magic 79, Jets 60
In Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, Shimane found the winning formula in the final quarter, scoring 24 points to Chiba’s seven to salvage a series split.
Michael Parker and B.J. Puckett led the Magic (25-23) with 24 points apiece; both had double-doubles, with Parker collecting 16 rebounds and Puckett pulling down 13 boards.
Overall, Shimane held a 60-35 edge on the boards.
Jeral Davis added 10 points, seven rebounds and five blocks for the Susanoo Magic. He leads the league in blocks (3.9 per game), including 10 in the weekend series. Edward Yamamoto added nine points and four assists and Jumpei Nakama chipped in with six points and six assists.
For Chiba (17-27), Maurice Hargrow had 18 points and Jamel Staten netted 17, while Kensuke Tanaka added 10.
Broncos 94, Five Arrows 78
In Iyo, Ehime Prefecture, Saitama made 36 of 50 shots from 2-point range, and Takamatsu suffered its 19th consecutive defeat.
John Flowers scored a team-high 18 points despite 0-for-7 3-point shooting for the Broncos (14-32), Yuki Kitamuki and James Porter had 17 points apiece, Jayme Miller scored 15, John Humphrey had 13 and Daiki Terashita added 10.
Paul Butorac had 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight turnovers for the Five Arrows (2-44), Nyika Williams scored 21 and Masaaki Suzuki and Hiroyuki Kikuchi added 12 apiece.