The Yokohama B-Corsairs and Niigata Albirex BB enter this weekend’s marquee matchup as the hottest teams in the bj-league’s Eastern Conference.
Yokohama, which has won eight straight games, plays host to a team that ended 2012 with seven consecutive victories
Credit B-Corsairs sixth man Draelon Burns and Albirex BB forward Yuichi Ikeda, The Japan Times’ Offensive Players of the Month for December, for having a big role in their respective teams’ success. Their talents will be on display at Yokohama International Swimming Pool on Saturday and Sunday.
Burns averaged 21.2 points and 4.8 assists in 10 December games as coach Reggie Geary’s club went 9-1 and improved to 16-6 overall.
The DePaul product had a pair of 15-point games and scored 20 or more in the rest of the December contests, including 30 on Dec. 29 against the visiting Tokyo Cinq Reves. He also had a triple-double (an 18-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist effort on Dec. 14 against the Sendai 89ers) and a 24-point, 12-assist outing against the Toyama Grouses on Dec. 1.
Named to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad as a reserve, Burns is the league’s second-leading scorer, averaging 20.6 points per game.
Ikeda, who has suited up for Niigata since 2006, averaged 14.2 points in 10 December games, helping coach Matt Garrison’s club post an 8-2 record. What’s more, the three-time All-Star canned 18 of 36 3-pointers for a team that places a great emphasis on its perimeter attack.
Game after game, the veteran forward was a dangerous threat from beyond the arc, including 4-for-6 vs. the Akita Northern Happinets on Dec. 2; 5-for-7 vs. the Chiba Jets on Dec. 16; 3-for-5 vs. the Shinshu Brave Warriors on Dec. 29; and 2-for-3 vs. Shinshu on Dec. 30 as Niigata (17-6) climbed into first place in the East by month’s end.
Defensive honor: Shimane Susanoo Magic teammates Michael Parker and Jeral Davis are The Japan Times’ Defensive Players of the Month.
Parker, who leads the league in minutes played (844) is a high-energy, hustling presence on the court. His 11 steals and 10 blocks in eight December games (six victories) helped Shimane maintain its good position in the Western Conference playoff race. Overall, Shimane (15-7) is tied with the Rizing Fukuoka for the second-best record in the West.
In addition to his defensive impact, Parker remains one of the league’s elite scorers. He’s the league’s No.4 scorer (20.1 ppg).
The 216-cm Davis, the league’s leader in shot blocks in each of the past two seasons, is once again atop the chart (3.5 per game). During December, the Talladega State (Alabama) alum was a dominant force in protecting the basket and forcing his foes to alter their shots on countless occasions due to his fearsome presence.
Here’s the game-by-game rundown on Davis’ block totals in December: three, five, six, two, eight, four, three and three. That adds up to 34 blocks, or 4.25 per game. His eight-block effort came against the defending champion Ryukyu Golden Kings on Dec. 15 in Okinawa.