The Iwate Big Bulls held off the host Yokohama B-Corsairs in overtime on Friday night, winning 89-84 in the bj-league series opener.
Reggie Okosa paced the Big Bulls (11-2) with 22 points and 17 rebounds (seven offensive boards). Carlos Dixon scored 19 points for Eastern Conference-leading Iwate, which had 19 OT points to Yokohama’s 14.
Former Sendai 89ers guard Kenichi Takahashi canned 3 of 4 3-pointers and finished with 12 points for the Big Bulls and Dillion Sneed and Lawrence Blackledge had 10 points apiece. Blackledge also grabbed a team-high eight offensive rebounds at Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium.
Thomas Kennedy was Yokohama’s leading scorer, putting 31 points on the board. Teammate Draelon Burns scored 21 points on 6-for-21 shooting from the field, but went 8-for-8 at the foul line. Burns also made four steals and dished out four assists. Paul Butorac scored 11 points and Minoru Kimura had 10 for the B-Corsairs (6-5).
“I’m very proud of my team tonight for the great effort they put forward for 45 minutes,” Yokohama coach Reggie Geary told The Japan Times after the game. “Unfortunately, with the game in hand we were unable to do the little things in the final moments to get the victory. We missed a golden opportunity tonight, but look forward to making amends tomorrow.”
Geary said Burns, Kennedy and Kimura had “strong performances” in the loss.
Sneed, meanwhile, recounted his team’s dramatic victory on Facebook after the contest. He wrote, “When (you) look at the clock … down four points with two seconds to go in the game and (you) still believe in yourself, somehow (you) get it to overtime and win. (Yeah), that just happened…”
Susanoo Magic 82, Evessa 77
In Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, Brandon Freeman and B.J. Puckett scored 22 points apiece and Michael Parker added 20 points and 11 rebounds as Shimane edged Osaka and spoiled forward Mike Bell’s return to the Evessa.
Osaka fell to 1-8. Shimane improved to 8-5.
Bell, who played for the Evessa last season, had 19 points in his season debut with five rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Rick Rickert added 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Osaka and Shota Konno scored eight points.
Shimane shot 18-for-20 at the charity stripe and outscored the hosts 33-21 in the fourth quarter.
Nara nickname revealed: The Western Conference’s next expansion squad will be known as Bambitious Nara, it was announced on Friday before the Osaka Evessa-Shimane Susanoo Magic series opener in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture.
Bambitious Nara will enter the league for the 2013-14 season along with the Aomori Wat’s.
Nara Prefecture is known for having deer, especially as part of the history of Kasuga Shrine. As noted on Wikipedia, “the path to Kasuga Shrine passes through Deer Park (in Nara).” The entry added: “In Deer Park, deer are able to roam freely and are believed to be scared messengers of the Shinto gods that inhabit the shrine and surrounding mountainous terrain. Kasuga Shrine and the deer have been featured in several paintings and works of art of the Nambokucho Period (1336-1392).”
In the 1920s, Austrian writer Felix Salten penned a book that was translated into English as “Bambi, A Life in the Woods.” It was made into a Walt Disney Studios film in 1942. Bambi, a strong, cunning deer, remains one of the most well-known animals in popular culture around the world, with Salten’s books being translated into a number of other languages.
With that in mind, the team created its nickname, combining Bambi and the goal to “be ambitious.”