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Hot-shooting Albirex whip Cinq Reves

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Niigata Albirex BB made exactly 50 percent of their shots from inside the 3-point arc on Saturday in their series opener against the host Tokyo Cinq Reves. And they were even better from beyond the arc, knocking down 13 of 25 shots (52 percent).

What’s more, the Eastern Conference-leading Albirex (23-8) increased their scoring output in each of the four quarters, from 21 to 25 to 25 to 29.

It all added up to a runaway win for Niigata, a 101-70 laugher over Tokyo, an expansion squad, at Komazawa Olympic Park Gymnasium.

Niigata collected 17 steals, led by Nile Murry’s seven, and forced 20 turnovers on the night.

Chris Holm paced the Albirex with 19 points, 19 rebounds and four blocked shots. Reserve forward Taj Finger added 18 points in 15-plus minutes and Rodney Webb scored 16 points. Murry finished with 13 points, four assists and three blocks and Kimitake Sato had a 10-point game. Shuhei Komatsu, Finger and Yuichi Ikeda all drained three 3-pointers, with Finger knocking down all three of his attempts.

The Cinq Reves trailed 46-30 at halftime.

Jonathan Jones led Tokyo (11-20) with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Cohey Aoki scored 12 points and Hirohisa Takada and newcomer Ricky Woods each had 11 points. Woods, who came off the bench and played just over 23:30, contributed five rebounds, four assists and one steal with seven turnovers in his Tokyo debut.

“I am absolutely enjoying playing for Niigata,” said Finger, who joined the Albirex after being let go by the cash-strapped Oita HeatDevils in early December. He’s averaging 9.6 points in 14 games for Niigata.

“The team really welcomed me in and made me feel comfortable,” added Finger, a Stanford University product. “Coach (Matt) Garrison and I have a good relationship and the Americans are all great guys. I also get along well with my Japanese teammates.

“…We have a legitimate shot at the title. Kimitake and Ikeda are two of the best Japanese guys I have played with and will be a big part of our team winning the whole thing. It’s been a slight struggle for me to find my role and get comfortable with the offense, but I think everything is coming together pretty well.”


Northern Happinets 86, Crane Thunders 78

In Annaka, Gunma Prefecture, Marshall Brown scored 27 points and Dion Harris added 19 as Akita won the series opener over the hosts.

The Northern Happinets (17-12) attempted nearly as many 3-pointers (11-for-37) as 2s (21-for-39). Rookie point guard Yuki Togashi, a 19-year-old, had 11 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and five turnovers in his third game for Akita.

Jermaine Dixon had 33 points and 12 rebounds for Gunma (6-25) and Dominique Keller scored 18 points. Shingo Okada added 10.

“Just took a tough lost today,” Dixon tweeted after the game. “We gotta play hard for 40 minutes tomorrow and we can get the victory.”

Evessa 78, HeatDevils 76

In Kobe, Shun Watanuki scored 22 points and guard Dwayne Lathan added a season-high 20 off the bench as Osaka held off Oita.

Watanuki sank 8 of 9 free throws and Lathan canned 9 of 10, making former Chicago Bulls coach Bill Cartwright a winner for the third time in five games since he took over for Osaka (8-21) on Jan. 20.

Frontcourt starters Mike Bell and Rick Rickert combined for seven points, with Bell grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds on the night. Masashi Obuchi and Nathan Walkup each scored eight points for the Evessa.

Osaka led 15-6 after one quarter and 35-21 at the half. But they were outscored 28-13 in the third quarter as Oita rallied back, and the HeatDevils took a one-point lead into the final period.

“In the second half, we were not able to adjust to our opponent,” Cartwright said after the game. “That has been difficult — to adjust to the defense. … But it was important to play intense on offense and defense.”

Cartwright commended Lathan’s leadership, saying he showed him more of his abilities in this game. “It was really good today,” the coach said of Lathan.

One positive sign, Cartwright said, was Osaka’s strong first-quarter defense, which helped the team build a large lead throughout the half.

For Oita (11-20), P.J. Alawoya was the top scorer with 20 points and Taishiro Shimizu had 17.

HeatDevils coach Yukinori Suzuki said the team made too many mistakes to overcome in its comeback attempt, and will focus on eliminating those miscues in the rematch on Sunday.

Golden Kings 75, Shining Suns 59

In Okinawa City, the defending champions held Miyazaki to 22-for-78 shooting as acting head coach Kimitoshi Sano’s team suffered a blowout loss in his first game at the helm since his predecessor, Junichiro Hongo, was let go.

Miyazaki (4-27) has lost five straight games and nine of its last 10.

Naoto Kosuge scored a team-high 15 points for Ryukyu (23-6) and Anthony McHenry and Terrence Woodbury each had 13. Big man Jeff Newton added 10 points and 11 rebounds. Dzaflo Larkai scored eight points and Narito Namizato added seven points and a game-best five assists.

Abdullahi Kuso had 18 points and 15 boards for Miyazaki.

Grouses 64, 89ers 56

In Sendai, Toyama pulled down 23 offensive rebounds in a gritty win over the hosts.

Tatsunori Fujie was the high scorer for the Grouses (20-11) with 11 points and Brandon Cole and Angel Garcia each scored 10. Takeshi Mito added eight points and Ira Brown had seven. Jacob was the team leader in rebounds with 12, including six off the offensive glass. Garcia handed out five assists at Xebio Arena.

Toyama outscored Sendai 23-9 in the fourth quarter.

Sendai shot 20-for-69 from the field, finishing with only nine assists. T.J. Cummings was the 89ers’ only double-digit scorer (21 points on 9-for-26 shooting). Sam Willard raked in 18 rebounds in the loss.

The 89ers fell to 11-18.

Hannaryz 83, Phoenix 72

In Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, David Palmer scored 25 points, including 5-for-7 on 3-pointers, to lead Kyoto to a road victory over Hamamatsu Higashimikawa.

Yu Okada added 16 points, Gyno Pomare scored 13 and grabbed 10 rebounds and Masaharu Kataoka added 11 for the Hannaryz (17-14). Marcus Cousin hauled in 12 rebounds and Okada dished out five assists.

Jeffrey Parmer led the Phoenix (21-12) with 15 points, Wendell White scored 14 and Kevin Galloway had 14 points, 13 boards and eight assists. Hamamatsu shot 29-for-82 from the field.

Lakestars 82, Rizing 74

In Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Yutaka Yokoe scored 17 points and five teammates also reached double figures in points as Shiga defeated the Rizing.

Newcomer Shelton Colwell, a Missouri State product, had 16 points — perhaps a breakout performance — in his third game for the Lakestars. The post player had one- and zero-point outings in his first two contests for coach Al Westover’s club.

Dionisio Gomez added 14 points and 13 rebounds, Ray Nixon scored 12 points and Takamichi Fujiwara and Wayne Arnold both had 11 for Shiga (18-13).

Julius Ashby paced Fukuoka (19-12) with 16 points. Frontcourt mate Reggie Warren had 14 points and 15 rebounds, Jun Nakanishi scored 11 points and Akitomo Takeno and Josh Peppers had 10 apiece.

Susanoo Magic 76, Five Arrows 69

In Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, All-Star MVP Michael Parker’s 23-point, nine-rebound effort guided Shimane past Takamatsu.

Brandon Freeman scored 13 points and B.J. Puckett and Jeral Davis each had 12. Edward Yamamoto finished with 11 points and five assists for the Susanoo Magic (20-11 overall, 11-4 at home).

For the Five Arrows (12-19), Brandon Penn and Hiroyuki Kikuchi each had 13 points and Dexter Lyons scored 12.

Both teams finished with 43 rebounds; Shimane shot 50 percent from inside the arc and Takamatsu converted 35.6 percent of its shots from that range.

Brave Warriors 98, Broncos 97

In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Shinshu (15-16) earned a narrow victory over the league’s worst team.

The Broncos fell to 3-26.