The Sendai 89ers gave their loyal fans a special Christmas treat: back-to-back home victories over the Shinshu Brave Warriors.
The series finale, an 83-76 Tuesday evening triumph for the 89ers, saw T.J. Cummings scored a game-high 25 points and Yasuaki Arai, a key offseason pickup from the Saitama Broncos, drain 6 of 9 3-pointers and add 24 points.
The 89ers improved to 7-12, while the Brave Warriors fell to 13-9.
Sam Willard had 10 points and 15 rebounds for Sendai. Floor leader Takehiko Shimura scored 10 points, dished out 12 assists and didn’t turn the ball over in an inspiring performance.
With Shimura directing the offense, the 89ers had a quality game in terms of shooting percentage; they were 10-for-20 on 3s and 19-for-38 on 2s.
For Shinshu, Takanori Goya was the high scorer, finishing with 23 points, including 5-for-9 on 3-pointers. Jermaine Green scored 20 points and Wayne Marshall added 10.
On Monday, the 89ers defeated the visitors 79-67.
Cummings paced the hosts with a game-high 34 points on 15-for-27 shooting from the field, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Kevin Coble had 12 points, Takuya Komoda added 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals and Willard had eight points and 11 rebounds.
Shimura contributed six assists and three steals.
The 89ers only attempted five 3s (all misses) in the game. They shot 53 percent from inside the arc (35-for-66).
“On Christmas Eve our players wanted to give our boosters a victory, but we kept stressing that Santa wasn’t going to show up and give them a win as a present, only sweat and hard work from the eleven guys in the yellow Sendai jerseys could do that,” Pierce said after the game.
“T.J. had a great all-around game, and having a full week of practices really helped,” the veteran coach added. “Taku (Komoda) also gave us a slight edge in the battle of the All-Stars (over Goya).
“But I thought one real difference today in following our game plan, was the effort on both ends of the court from Daisuke Takaoka and Spike (Atsushi Nogami)…”
After the series ended, Piere admitted stepped up and overcome adversity to pick up the second win.
“Taku was out today with a sprained ankle — last 11 seconds of yesterday’s game — so we asked Daisuke to start and we took a 45-36 into halftime. Then on the first play of the second half Daisuke got hurt,” the coach said.