FUNABASHI, CHIBA PREF. – The Chiba Jets enter the All-Star break on a roll, picking up their fourth straight victory by thumping the Saitama Broncos 98-66 on Sunday afternoon at Funabashi Arena.
The Jets didn’t rely on outside shooting — an aspect of the game that many bj-league teams struggled with on the day — to overwhelm the Broncos; in fact, they were only 1-for-11 from beyond the arc (that shot found the bottom of the net courtesy of Marquin Chandler).
Instead, Chiba found its comfort zone in the lane. That was where the majority of its points came from. And in his post-game interview sessions with reporters, Saitama coach Tracy Williams said he only recalled the Jets attempting three shots outside of the lane in the opening half.
It worked. The Jets, who built a six-point lead after one quarter, had 26 second-quarter points and, in doing so, increased the margin to 47-32 at the break.
Saitama had a dreadful start to the third quarter — too many turnovers, too many missed shots, too many missed assignments on defense — and Chiba exploited the Broncos’ weaknesses, using a 18-0 run to open the half and take a 65-32 lead on a Kensuke Tanaka layup. That was the biggest margin for the hosts, who never let up the rest of the way, as exemplified by Tanaka, who had a pair of blocks, including one on a 3-point attempt in the fourth quarter, to go along with nine points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals in 28 intense minutes of court time.
Big man Joe Werner, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse product, scored a game-high 24 points, including an 8-for-10 effort at the charity stripe, and pulled down 11 rebounds for Chiba (12-12). After the game, Jets coach Shinji Tomiyama said he considers Werner the team’s MVP for the first half of the season, citing his energy on both offense and defense, and his productivity (19.6 points and 10.8 rebounds).
Commenting on the victory, Tomiyama said, “It was an important game before the All-Star Game. Good overall effort today on offense and defense. The guys played hard today.”
Saitama, which has a league-worst 3-21 record, was 15-for-56 from the field over the first three quarters, and in the third, when Chiba pulled away for good, the Broncos were 3-for-19 from the field. They wound up with 53 missed shots out of 73 on the afternoon, including 15-for-54 from inside the 3-point arc.
Forward Chandler, who’ll represent Chiba in the Jan. 20 All-Star Game at Ariake Colosseum, had a strong all-around game, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two blocks, and Marquise Gray scored 17 points. D’Andre Bell and Hiroki Sato finished with 12 points apiece for the Jets.
Newcomer Wayne Oliver led Saitama with 18 points on 7-for-21 shooting and teammate Yuki Kitamuki scored 14 on a 4-for-18 effort, while Nyika Williams had 13 points.
“Basically, we came out and we rebounded the ball well . . . but we just shot the ball terrible,” Williams said after the game.
The Broncos did have more offensive rebounds (23-18 edge) than Chiba, but were outperformed in every key area.
“You can’t shoot the ball 26 percent and win,” Williams continued. “. . . That right there in itself is the tale of the tape right there. We picked a terrible time to not shoot the ball well, and as well as the fact of not really guarding (them) in front of the basket.
“Werner, he’s tough, as well as Chandler, who I think is the best player in the bj-league. He does everything. . . .”
In defeat, the Saitama bench boss chose to focus on the positives.
“But the good thing I just told my team about was Chiba showed us how you’ve got to play,” the coach said. “If I had to pick one play that describes what I just said, I would say it’s 1:23 left in the game and they’re up by 31 and their player (Tanaka) goes to the corner against Kitamuki and blocks his shot and closes out of it. See, that’s how you’ve got to play to be a winner anywhere. You’ve got to play hard no matter if you’re up by 30 or you’re losing by 30.
“So I told my team for this not to be a wasted trip, we’ve got to take that example that Chiba showed us and learn from it. . .”
Five Arrows 57, Golden Kings 54
In Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Takamatsu edged the defending champions on a day when Ryukyu’s outside shooting delivered a big doughnut — 0-for-17 from 3-point range.
Floor leader Dexter Lyons scored a team-high 16 points for the Five Arrows (10-16) and Brandon Penn added 13.
Narito Namizato and Anthony McHenry led the Golden Kings (20-4) with 13 points apiece and Jeff Newton had 11 points and 15 boards.
Ryukyu only put four points on the board in the second quarter, and shot 21-for-69 for the entire game. All those missed shots led to nonstop rebounding chances. The Golden Kings collected 26 offensive boards and 70 rebounds on the day, but failed to consistently capitalize on those extra opportunities to put the ball in the basket.
Hannaryz 78, HeatDevils 49
In Muko, Kyoto Prefecture, former NBA center Marcus Cousin and Gyno Pomare both notched double-doubles as the Hannaryz handed Oita its 13th straight defeat.
Cousin finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, Pomare added 17 points and nine boards and David Palmer scored 18 points for Kyoto (14-12). Yu Okada chipped in with 12 points for the hosts.
Oita (9-17) shot 18-for-63 from the field.
Andre Coimbra had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Taishiro Shimizu scored 13 points for the HeatDevils.
Grouses 85, Big Bulls 68
In Mizusawa, Iwate Prefecture, Jeremy Jacob’s 25 points spearheaded a balanced attack to lead Toyama to a bounce-back win over the Big Bulls.
Masashi Joho scored 12 points and Takeshi Mito and Tatsunori Fujie each had 11 for the Grouses (16-10). Big man Ira Brown added 10 points, 11 boards and four assists.
For Iwate (19-7), Carlos Dixon was the leading scorer with 22 points, Reggie Okosa had 19 and Lawrence Blackledge finished with eight points and 13 rebounds.
The Big Bulls were 4-for-19 on 3s.
B-Corsairs 79, Crane Thunders 61
In Yokohama, Draelon Burns scored 22 points and Thomas Kennedy poured in 18 as the hosts salvaged a series split.
Pape Faye Mour contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds and Masayuki Kabaya had an 11-point afternoon for the B-Corsairs (18-8), who play a Tuesday-Wednesday series against the Akita Northern Happinets in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefeture, and Yokohama, respectively.
Lewis Witcher paced Gunma (5-21) with 16 points and Shingo Okada scored 15 for the expansion squad. Jermaine Dixon had eight points and four steals, and was 1-for-10 on 3-point shots.
Phoenix 93, Rizing 87
In Hamamatsu, Wendell White’s 23-point, 10-rebound, four-assists effort guided the hosts to their second triumph in as many days over Fukuoka.
Kevin Galloway finished with 15 points, eight boards and eight assists for the Phoenix (19-9), while Jeffrey Parmer scored 14 points and Shoji Nakanishi and Yoshitomo Shiina supplied nine apiece.
Josh Peppers led the Rizing (16-10) with 25 points and Reggie Warren had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Jun Nakanishi scored 16 points for Fukuoka and Julius Ashby and Akitomo Takeno added 11 apiece.
The Rizing had 17 turnovers and shot 65.4 percent (17-for-26) at the foul line.
Susanoo Magic 99, Shining Suns 69
In Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, Shimane rebounded from an overtime loss in the series opener, thrashing the hosts in the teams’ final contest before next Sunday’s All-Star Game.
Center big man Jeral Davis scored a team-high 24 points, raked in 14 rebounds and swatted five shots for the Susanoo Magic (17-9). Frontcourt mate B.J. Puckett added 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, Brandon Freeman scored 18 points, Tatsuhiro Yokoo had a 14-point outing and Edward Yamamoto poured in 13 points with four assists.
Shimane star Michael Parker, the four-time reigning league scoring champion, was sidelined with an injury sustained in Saturday’s game. His teammates picked up the scoring slack in his absence.
Ricky Woods led Miyazaki (4-22) with 21 points. The Magic made him work for his points, sending him to the foul line for 12 shots (11 makes). Larriques Cunningham scored 14 points for the Suns, who shot 23-for-74 from the field.
Lakestars 75, Evessa 57
In Osaka, Dionisio Gomez was the tone-setter for Shiga in the series finale, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Lakestars earned a series split.
Wayne Arnold finished with 14 points and Ray Nixon had 12 points and five assists for Shiga (15-11). Veteran guard Jumpei Nakama scored 11 points in the rout.
In short, perimeter shooting cost the Evessa (5-19) the game. They were 2-for-21 on 3-point attempts.
Mike Bell and Rick Rickert paced Osaka with 19 points apiece, and Rickert hauled in 15 rebounds.