The Ryukyu Golden Kings began 2013 the same way they ended last year, the bj-league’s premier team proving that point against one of its foes.
Ryukyu completed a series sweep on Thursday afternoon in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, beating the Kyoto Hannaryz 87-64.
The reigning champion Golden Kings (19-3) overwhelmed the visitors with a splendid display from inside the 3-point arc. Led by Narito Namizato (23 points, 9-for-16 shooting, including 7-for-11 on 2s) and Georgia Tech alum Anthony McHenry (20 points, 10-for-11 on 2s), the host shot 62 percent (31-for-50) on 2-pointers, including Dzaflo Larkai’s 7-for-13. Five other Golden Kings shot 50 percent or better from inside the arc; in fact, only Terrance Woodbury, the team’s leading scorer this season (17.9 points per game), made less than half of his 2-point shots. Woodbury was 0-for-3 from inside the arc and 0-for-5 overall in a zero-point, four-foul, nine-minute outing.
The game wasn’t a rout, though, from the get-go. Kyoto (12-12) trailed 37-33 at the half.
Energized by their Okinawan supporters, the Golden Kings seized control after intermission, outscoring the Hannaryz 50-31 before an announced crowd of 3,375.
Defensively, Ryukyu played a stellar game in holding Kyoto to 21-for-62 shooting.
Naoto Kosuge canned three 3-pointers, scored 11 points and grabbed a game-high three steals for the Kings. McHenry added 16 rebounds and five assists along with a steal. Larkai finished with 14 points and team leader Jeff Newton had nine points and nine boards. Yosuke Sugawara was productive in 20 minutes off the bench, contributing four points, five boards, two assists and two steals. Namizato dished out five assists.
Masaharu Kataoka scored a team-best 19 points for Kyoto. Jermaine Boyette had 13 and Marcus Cousin nine. Gyno Pomare added seven points and 14 boards.
In the series opener on Wednesday, Ryukyu jumped out to a 17-point advantage by halftime en route to a convincing 92-77 victory.
Namizato paced the Golden Kings with 22 points and eight assists. The 23-year-old All-Star guard was 8-for-9 at the free-throw line. Woodbury poured in 20 points, Jeff Newton scored 15 points, Morihisa Yamauchi had 13 and Sugawara added nine.
McHenry led the Kings with 10 rebounds, adding two steals for good measure. Yamauchi made four steals.
Ryukyu shot 10-for-18 from 3-point range. Sugawara was 3-for-3, Yamauchi nailed 3 of 5 and Namizato knocked down 2 of 3. The Kings shot 25-for-50 from inside the arc.
Yu Okada scored 18 points for the Hannaryz. Gyno Pomare had 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots, while David Palmer scored 15 and Marcus Cousin had 12. Kyosuke Setoyama handed out six assists in the loss.
Veteran post player Randy Orr has joined the expansion Gunma Crane Thunders, the team formally announced on Thursday.
Orr, 30, played 10 games for the Saitama Broncos earlier this season, averaging 10.2 points and 6.6 rebounds.
The 210-cm athlete has spent time in the NBA Development League, USBL, Sweden, Kuwait, Venezuela and France, among other locales, in a well-traveled career.
The Crane Thunders (4-18) play host to the Iwate Big Bulls (16-6) on Saturday and Sunday, and Orr will make his Gunma debut in the series.
“Randy brings more size and athleticism,” Crane Thunders coach Ryan Blackwell told The Japan Times, looking ahead to what he expects from the team’s new addition. “He can extend our offense with his ability to shoot from 3-point range. We need him to run the floor on offense and play solid defense in the post and rebound.”