In his four seasons leading the Ryukyu Golden Kings, Dai Oketani managed the team to extraordinary success — four Final Four appearances, two championships and a record of 147-59 in the regular season (2008-12).
Now, Oketani is 1-0 against his former club.
In an emotionally charged game for the host Big Bulls on Saturday night, Oketani guided his club to a stunning, come-from-behind 79-77 triumph over the reigning champions.
Reggie Okosa scored a team-best 21 points for Iwate and rising star Masato Tsukino and Carlos Dixon each had 18 as the Big Bulls, a second-year franchise, improved to 26-13. They already have seven more victories than they did during their inaugural season. Dillion Sneed added 16 points and seven rebounds for the hosts. The rest of the team scored six points.
Okosa finished with 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
The Golden Kings (28-9) led 66-49 after three quarters in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture.
Iwate outscored Ryukyu 30-11 in the final stanza.
Terrance Woodbury paced the Golden Kings with 21 points and Naoto Kosuge and Narito Namizato each had 13, the latter also dishing out nine assists. Morihisa Yamauchi scored eight points in the loss.
Evessa 120, Rizing 113 (2OT)
In Fukuoka, Shota Konno had a career-best 36-point performance on 14-for-19 shooting from the field, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, and 5-for-5 at the line as Osaka outlasted the hosts in a wild double-overtime game.
Dwayne Lathan scored 20 points and went 12-for-15 at the foul line for the Evessa (12-25). Nathan Walkup scored 15 points, Mike Bell had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Shun Watanuki also scored 14 with seven assists and Rick Rickert chipped in with 13 points, 10 boards, five assists and two steals before fouling out. Osaka improved to 7-6 since ex-Chicago Bulls head coach Bill Cartwright was named the team’s new bench boss on Jan. 20.
Reggie Warren was Fukuoka’s top scorer with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Julius Ashby and Josh Peppers both scored 24 points. Akitomo Takeno had 15 points and six assists. Ashby swatted four shots for the Rizing (26-13), who led 44-35 at halftime.
B-Corsairs 80, HeatDevils 62
In Yokohama, Thomas Kennedy scored 32 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the hosts to a commanding win over Oita.
Pape Faye Mour contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds and Shawn Malloy and Masayuki Kabaya each had 12.
Yokohama (26-11) held the HeatDevils to less than 20 points in three of the four quarters.
The B-Corsairs, missing star Draelon Burns for a fourth straight game (upper leg contusion), led 38-24 at the half.
Verdell Jones III was Oita’s top scorer with 15 points. Thomas Granado had 11 and Taishiro Shimizu 10. The HeatDevils fell to 12-27.
Phoenix 88, Cinq Reves 73
In Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Kevin Galloway notched a triple-double and Tomoya “Coach Crusher” Higashino earned a victory in his debut as Hamamatsu Higashimikawa’s new bench boss.
Elbert Fuqua had 22 points and 15 boards for the Phoenix (24-15) and Galloway supplied 20 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and four steals. Atsuya Ota added 13 points and Masahiro Oguchi chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Hamamatsu dominated on the boards, grabbing 57 rebounds, including 28 off the offensive glass. Tokyo had 45 total rebounds.
Jonathan Jones paced the Cinq Reves (13-24) with 22 points and Ricky Woods scored 13. Cohey Aoki added 12 points and Akihito Inoue poured in 11. Tokyo shot 20-for-36 at the line
Broncos 96, Northern Happinets 89
In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, John “Helicopter” Humphrey and Nyika Williams combined for 58 points, including 22 at the free-throw line, as the Broncos won the series opener over Akita.
Humphrey was 13-for-13 at the line and scored a game-high 39 points with six rebounds and three steals. Williams had 19 points and 13 boards and Yuki Kitamuki chipped in with 12 points for Saitama (9-28). Dameion Baker had seven points and seven rebounds.
Rookie guard Yuki Togashi had 28 points for the Happinets (20-17) and Mike Anderson scored 21 points. Marshall Brown added 18 points and Dion Harris had 13.
The Broncos spent much of the game at the line (28-for-33). Akita failed miserably in that aspect of the contest (2-for-11).
Lakestars 77, Jets 76
In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, Shiga shot 37.5 percent at the charity stripe and turned the ball over 17 times, but found a way to hold off the hosts.
Shelton Colwell had 18 points, Dionisio Gomez scored 14 and Takamichi Fujiwara and Daiki Terashita supplied 10 apiece for the Lakestars (25-14), who converted 9 of 18 3-point shots. Yutaka Yokoe had eight points in the win. Ray Nixon made three steals.
Joe Werner finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds for Chiba (19-18) and Marquin Chandler scored 13 points. D’Andre Bell and Shota Isshiki had 11 and 10 points, respectively. Kensuke Tanaka handed out six assists.
Albirex BB 86, Hannaryz 76
In Ise, Mie Prefecture, Niigata held a whopping 51-26 advantage in rebounds and that proved vital in a victory over Kyoto.
Chris Holm led the Albirex (28-11) with 19 rebounds, while Nile Murry (24 points) and Taj Finger (20) did the heavy lifting in the scoring department. Kimitake Sato had 11 points, and Murry shared the team lead in assists (five) with Hirotaka Kondo. Yuichi Ikeda contributed nine points and Shuhei Komatsu and Holm each had eight. Niigata rang up 22 assists on 32 field goals in a smooth offensive display on the night.
Marcus Cousin was the Hannaryz’s top scorer with 32 points. Gyno Pomare had 10 points and Masaharu Kataoka scored nine. Kyosuke Setoyma added seven points for Kyoto (19-18).
Susanoo Magic 83, Brave Warriors 68
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Michael Parker had 27 points and 10 rebounds and Jeral Davis provided 20 points and six blocks as the hosts took care of business against Shinshu in their series opener.
Brandon Freeman scored 13 points, B.J. Puckett had eight and Tatsuhiro Yokoo five for the Magic (27-12).
Jermaine Green led Shinshu (16-23) with 17 points and Michael Fey had 15. Takanori Goya and Eric Walton each had nine points for the Brave Warriors, who were 28-for-73 from the field.
Shining Suns 83, Crane Thunders 74
In Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, Thomas Fairley scored 23 points and hauled in 14 rebounds and Yuto Otsuka added 22 points as the hosts snapped a five-game losing streak.
Abdullahi Kuso had 17 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocks for Miyazaki (6-33).
Gunma’s Dominique Keller had 19 points and 11 rebounds against his former team. Lewis Witcher and Jermaine Dixon each scored 11 points for the Crane Thunders (9-30).
89ers earn split
In Sendai, Maurice Hargrow and T.J. Cummings had 22 points apiece to lead the host 89ers to an 87-77 victory on Friday over the Takamatsu Five Arrows.
Sam Willard scored 15 points and cleaned the glass for 17 rebounds, and Takehiko Shimura provided 14 points and four assists as Sendai improved to 15-23 and earned a series split.
The 89ers sanks 21 of 24 free-throw attempts.
For Takamatsu (16-24), Dexter Lyons was the top scorer with 20 points along with six assists. Paul Williams had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Daisuke Tamura added 12 points.