The Yokohama B-Corsairs match up well against the Akita Northern Happinets, and have caused great headaches for coach Kazuo Nakamura’s squad.
The B-Corsairs eliminated the Northern Happinets from the playoffs last season, putting a disappointing finish to the team’s second season, and first under Nakamura, who had guided the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix to back-to-back championships in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
On Sunday, Yokohama impressively put the finishing touches on a two-game sweep, trouncing the hosts 89-56 in Oga, Akita Prefecture.
The Happinets (10-6) began the weekend atop the Eastern Conference standings, and now are tied for fourth place with the B-Corsairs (also 10-6).
Five days after unconventional bench boss Nakamura’s 72nd birthday, Akita’s offense ran from the outside in. In fact, the Happinets took nearly twice as many 3-pointers (10-for-46) as 2-pointers (9-for-26).
Indeed, it was a frustrating debut weekend for Akita forward Dan Fitzgerald, a Marquette University product, who was 3-for-23 on 3s in his first two games with the club. This included 2-for-13 on Sunday in a nine-point outing.
Yokohama cruised to a victory in the opener, too, winning 87-64.
After Sunday’s game, B-Corsairs sideline supervisor Reggie Geary, the 2011-12 bj-league Coach of the Year, admitted it was “two big wins on the road versus our division leader (entering) this weekend.”
“We really defended well both games and were offensively aggressive at the right time,” Geary added. “Solid performances from all three of our foreigners, who combined for 46 points and 31 rebounds, (Masayuki) Kabaya had 10 points, and a huge 5-for-6 from the 3-point line by our point guard Kenji Yamada.”
Draelon Burns finished with a team-high 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals for Yokohama, which buried 17 of 33 shots from beyond the arc. Thomas Kennedy added 17 points, connecting on 4 of 7 3s, and 14 rebounds, and Yamada also scored 17. Pape Faye Mour contributed seven points and 10 boards.
Shigehiro Taguchi paced Akita with 16 points and Dion Harris had 14.
Rizing 86, Golden Kings 74
In Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture, veteran big man Julius Ashby played his best all-around game of the season as Fukuoka handed Ryukyu its first defeat of the season.
Ashby had season-high totals in points (30), rebounds (16), blocks (four) and field-goal attempts (11-for-19), and was 8-for-10 at the foul line for the Rizing (11-7).
Fukuoka’s Akitomo Takeno finished with 14 points and five assists and Reggie Warren had 13 points and seven boards. Newcomer Justin Johnson contributed 10 points and Jun Nakanishi added eight.
The reigning champion Golden Kings (15-1) shot 4-for-23 on 3s, including Narito Namizato’s 1-for-8.
Namizato had a team-high 15 points on 5-for-18 shooting with seven rebounds and eight assists. Terrance Woodbury scored 13 points and Dzaflo Larkai and Jeff Newton each had 12.
Phoenix 103, Shining Suns 80
In Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture, Kevin Galloway and Wendell White teamed up to carry Hamamatsu Higashimikawa past the hosts.
Galloway made contributions all over the court — 23 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks — and White had a 21-point, nine-rebound performance in his second game since returning to the Phoenix after his release the previous week by the Oita HeatDevils. Tsubasa Yonezawa and Jeffrey Parmer each scored 16 points, the latter also hauling in nine rebounds, and Yoshitomo Shiina had a season-best 13 points.
Hamamatsu improved to 13-7, climbing into second place in the Western Conference.
Miyazaki fell to 2-16, tied with the expansion Gunma Crane Thunders for the worst record in the 21-team circuit.
Ricky Woods led the Shining Suns with 32 points and Hiroki Oshiro scored 19.
Big Bulls 88, Broncos 72
In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Dillion Sneed scored 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting to lead a balanced offensive attack as Iwate completed a series sweep over the struggling hosts.
Carlos Dixon poured in 18 points with five assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Big Bulls (13-5). Reggie Okosa scored 14 points, Masato Tsukino had 12 and Makoto Sawaguchi added eight. Haruyuki Ishibashi, a 39-year-old reserve guard, contributed five points and two steals off the bench, and Kenichi Takahashi had five points.
Nyika Williams had 25 points and 24 rebounds, including 12 offensive boards, for Saitama (2-12), which lost its fifth straight game. Takuma Yamashiro scored 17 points and Dameion Baker had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
The Broncos, playing without league-leading scorer John “Helicopter” Humphrey (back injury), were 26-for-76 from the field.
Crane Thunders 81, Jets 66
In Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, newcomer Jermaine Dixon guided the offense and hard-working forward Lewis Witcher’s inside muscle proved to be the difference in a bounce-back triumph over the Jets.
Dixon, a Best Five guard for Hamamatsu last season who made his Gunma debut on Saturday, had 24 points, five rebounds and five assists. Witcher scored 14 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for the Crane Thunders (2-16). Kenya Tomori added 12 points and five assists, Yutaka Suzuki scored 10 and Shingo Okada had nine.
Marquin Chandler had a double-double (19 points, 13 rebounds), Joe Werner added 17 points and eight rebounds for Chiba and teammate D’Andre Bell scored 11.
The Jets (8-8) shot 2-for-18 from beyond the arc.
Hannaryz 73, Lakestars 70
In Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, Kyoto forward David Palmer knocked down 9 of 13 shots from the field en route to 25 points as coach Honoo Hamaguchi’s club salvaged a series split after seeing its eight-game winning streak snapped a day earlier.
Kyosuke Setoyama scored 13 points and Marcus Cousin had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Hannaryz (9-9). Kyoto sank 24 of 27 foul shots in the win.
Dionisio Gomez led the Lakestars (9-9) with 17 points, Shinya Ogawa scored 12 and Takamichi Fujiwara and Wayne Arnold both had 11.
Brave Warriors 99, Grouses 91 (2OT)
In Toyama, Shinshu rebounded from a five-point Saturday loss and outlasted the hosts in double overtime.
The Brave Warriors (12-6 overall, 9-3 on the road) got a dynamic effort from center Wayne Marshall — 17 points, 20 rebounds, nine blocked shots — and 15 points and 15 boards from Edward Morris. Jermaine Green scored 21 points and Takanori Goya had 15 for Shinshu.
Angel Garcia and Ira Brown had 22 points apiece for Toyama (12-8). Brown also grabbed 10 boards, one fewer than Garcia, and swatted three shots. Jeremy Jacob scored 18 points and hauled in a team-best 12 rebounds, and Masashi Joho had nine points for the Grouses.
Evessa 78, Susanoo Magic 70
In Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Mike Bell (19 points, 10 boards) and Rick Rickert (14 points, 12 rebounds) each had double-doubles and Shota Konno scored 18 points as Osaka earned a series split.
The Evessa improved to 2-12.
Michael Parker finished with 25 points and 12 boards for Shimane (11-7) and Jeral Davis and B.J. Puckett both scored 13, while Koki Yabuuchi had an 11-point performance.
Five Arrows 82, HeatDevils 55
In Kanonji, Kagawa Prefecture, Takamatsu seized momentum in the third quarter, outscoring Oita 26-8, to seize control of the game and pick up its second victory in two days.
The Five Arrows improved to 6-10; the HeatDevils, losers of five straight, fell to 9-9.