The Oita HeatDevils jumped out to a 35-10 lead after one quarter and held off the visiting Kyoto Hannaryz’s ferocious comeback on Friday night in the bj-league.
Kyoto outscored Oita in each of the next three quarters, but dropped a 91-88 decision to fall to 0-3 on the season.
The HeatDevils improved to 2-1 under second-year coach Yukinori Suzuki.
Oita center Taj Finger, a Stanford University product, scored a game-high 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting, and contributed five rebounds and three assists. Former MVP Wendell White, who played college ball at UNLV, had an 11-point, 11-rebound, six-assist effort for the HeatDevils, while veteran point guard Taishiro Shimizu, a steady performer in the league since its inception in 2005, added 17 points, including 3-for-5 on 3-point shots, with five steals and four assists. Backcourt mate Naoto Takushi sank 3 of 4 3s en route to 14 points and handed out three assists. Kohei Mitomo drained both of his 3-pointers in a nine-point outing, while Kazuya “J.” Hatano made his presence felt in 14-plus minutes, providing six points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Shimizu and Hatano were major pickups in the offseason for the HeatDevils, who have missed the postseason for five straight seasons.
Oita shot 26 for 50 from 2-point range and 9-for-16 from beyond the arc. The HeatDevils handed out 22 assists with nine turnovers.
Marcus Cousin, a former Utah Jazz center, had 22 points and 13 rebounds for Kyoto. Cousin was 10-for-11 at the free-throw line. The Hannaryz were 19-for-29 at the charity stripe.
Jermaine Boyette, who starred at Weber State before turning pro, had 19 points and was 8-for-9 from the field for Kyoto. Newcomer Masaharu Kataoka, a guard, poured in 14 points and David Palmer had 10 points. Gyno Pomare scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds in the loss. Yu Okada was 1-for-9 on 3s and scored eight points.