Center Jeral Davis was an unstoppable force for the Shimane Susanoo Magic in Satuday’s bj-league series opener against the Miyazaki Shining Suns, scoring 27 points on 13-for-17 shooting.
Davis added seven rebounds and four blocks in Shimane’s 77-63 home victory. The Magic improved to 3-0 under third-year coach Zeljko Pavlicevic, who guided NBA standout Toni Kukoc in Europe before his championship years with the Chicago Bulls.
Michael Parker contributed 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists, six steals and two blocks for Shimane and Tatsuhiro Yokoo scored 12 points.
For Miyazaki (1-2), Marshall Brown had a 21-point game and Dominique Keller added 19 points and nine boards.
After the game, Pavlicevic told The Japan Times his team had a strong performance. He also praised the play of the visitors, saying the club has a solid duo in Brown and Keller to lead the way.
Pavlicevic pointed out that Davis’ 27-point effort was a big factor in the win. But he said he team’s continuity has been important, noting that Edward Yamamoto (10 rebounds, four assists), Shohei Nakama, Koki Yabuuchi and Yokoo have also been part of the squad since its inception in 2010.
Holding Miyazaki to 63 points, Pavlicevic said in a phone conversation, demonstrated that “everyone played defense.”
“All players need to support our defensive efforts,” the coach added.
Parker’s offensive feats are expected in this league — what with four consecutive scoring titles — but his other numbers add value to the Magic in a big way. “He’s a great player,” Pavlicevic stated.
With a 3-0 start, Pavlicevic said he’s pleased with the team’s play to begin the season but cautioned that he can’t let his players think they are invincible in the series rematch on Sunday.
“Always the second game is more complicated and dangerous,” Pavlicevic said. “Part of my job is to have the players prepared.”
HeatDevils 74, Hannaryz 64
Thee Oita HeatDevils played a well-balanced game and defeated visiting Kyoto to complete a series sweep.
Star forward Wendell White notched a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds), Kohei Mitomo scored 13 points with four assists and former Stanford University products Taj Finger and Matt Lottich each had 11 points for the HeatDevils (3-1). Finger grabbed 13 rebounds. Forward Kazuya “J.” Hatano chipped in with eight points, eight rebounds and two assists for coach Yukinori Suzuki’s squad, while Taishiro Shimizu was 0-for-6 from the field and 0-for-2 at the foul line, but made positive contributions in other areas — five assists and four steals, for instance.
Masahiro Kataoka scored a game-high 16 points for Kyoto (0-4) and Gyno Pomare had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Yu Okada shot 3-for-18 from 3-point range in the series.
Lakestars 76, Evessa 64
In Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, Wayne Arnold sank four 3s and scored a team-best 20 points to lead the hosts to a series-opening win.
The Evessa fell to 0-3 under coach Zoran Kreckovic, whose embattled club also lost all three of its preseason games.
Big man Alfred Aboya, a UCLA product, added 16 points for the Lakestars (2-1) and Ray Nixon scored 15 points, raked in eight boards and made four assists. Dionisio Gomez and Jumpei Nakama each scored seven points apiece in the triumph.
The Lakestars outrebounded the Evessa 45-28, including a 21-10 advantage on the offensive glass.
Forward Nathan Walkup paced Osaka with 26 points, going 13-for-16 at the charity stripe, with 11 rebounds. Shun Watanuki, a 24-year-old guard, poured in a career-high 23 points. The other eight players combined for 20 points. Four Evessa players — Masashi Obuchi, Taizo Kawabe, Takuya Hashimoto and Andre Coimbra — combined for zero points on 0-for-10 shooting from the field, with all of them missing shots.
Grouses 82, 89ers 72
In Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, Masashi Joho had a 20-point performance and Takeshi Mito added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Grouses in a win over Sendai.
Ira Brown pumped in 17 points with nine rebounds as Toyama improved to 3-2.
Joho is currently averaging a career-high 16.8 points per game. He has played in the bj-league since 2005.
Tatsunori Fujie and Angel Garcia had eight points apiece for the Grouses and Ryuichi Horikawa scored seven points. Garcia also grabbed 12 rebounds.
Sendai shot 16-for-17 at the free-throw line, but missed 14 of its 16 3-point shots, including Yasuaki Arai’s frustrating 0-for-9 outing from long range. Arai finished with two points.
Sam Coleman led the 89ers (1-4) with 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Sam Willard had 20 points and 11 boards. Kevin Coble had an eight-point game, and Takehiko Shimura and Karron Clarke both scored six points.
Sendai’s Japanese players had a combined 15 points; Toyama’s native sons scored 53. It was a major difference in the game.
Cinq Reves 71, Albirex BB 68
In Seiro, Niigata Prefecture, Jonathan Jones scored 24 points and hauled in 10 rebounds and Cohey Aoki had a 14-point evening as Tokyo won its second straight game.
Rasheem Barrett contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists for the expansion Cinq Reves (2-1), Akihito Inoue finished with nine points and Hirohisa Takada scored seven.
Tokyo coach Motofumi Aoki’s club had 59 rebounds to Niigata’s 51.
Nile Murry was the Albirex’s top scorer with 15 points, and supplied seven rebounds and five assists for the hosts. Big man Chris Holm scored 11 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for Niigata (0-3). Kimitake Sato and Yuichi Ikeda each had nine points in the tight game.
The Albirex were 8-for-18 at the free-throw line and the Cinq Reves were 17-for-24, including Aoki’s 8-for-8.
Big Bulls 78, Jets 77
In Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, the hosts shot a dreadful 11-for-32 at the free-throw line, but managed to pull off the narrowest of victories over Chiba and remain unbeaten.
Center Dillion Sneed led Iwate (5-0) with 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting. Reggie Okosa chipped in with 17 points, eight boards and three blocks and Lawrence Blackledge had 14 points and three rejections. Carlos Dixon had eight points, 10 rebounds and three steals and Naoto Nakamura and Kenichi Takahashi each had five points for coach Dai Oketani’s club.
D’Andre Bell paced the Jets (1-2) with 26 points, Joe Warner scored 17, Serge Angounou had 12 and Shota Isshiki eight. Kensuke Tanaka added seven points, seven assists and three steals for Chiba.
Phoenix 76, Rizing 72
In Fukuoka, Kevin Gallowaway’s all-around play and balanced scoring carried Hamamatsu Higashimikawa to a victory on the road.
Galloway finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals in 31 action-packed minutes. Teammate Jeffrey Parmer and Masahiro Oguchi scored 11 points apiece, Elbert Fuqua and Yoshitomo Shiina each poured in nine and Atsuya Ota grabbed nine rebounds for the Phoenix (3-2).
For Fukuoka (0-3), Reggie Warren was the leader in points (14), rebounds (10) and assists (five), and Jun Nakanishi had 11 points.
Happinets 98, Crane Thunders 60
In Yurihonjo, Akita Prefecture, the hosts led by 14 points after one quarter and were never seriously challenged in a runaway victory by Gunma, an expansion club.
The Crane Thunders (0-5) trailed 51-22 after two quarters and 80-37 entering the final stanza.
Thirteen Akita players scored in the blowout, including T.J. Cummings (16 points) and Dion Harris (14). Point guard Makoto Hasegawa, the league’s oldest player at age 41, made his season debut and scored four points in six minutes for the Happinets (3-0).
Nyika Williams and Damien Brown both scored 11 points to lead Gunma.
Golden Kings 84, Five Arrows 66
In Takamatsu, reigning champion Rykyu scored 50 second-half points to win for the third time in as many games.
The Five Arrows fell to 2-1.
Broncos 94, Brave Warriors 82
In Ina Nagano Prefecture, Saitama (1-2) picked up its first victory under coach Tracy Williams.
Shinshu slipped to 2-1.