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Conference crown still up for grabs in East

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Niigata Albirex BB moved closer to a possible Eastern Conference regular-season title by beating the visiting Sendai 89ers 98-79 on Saturday night.

Niigata (35-16) is one game ahead of the Iwate Big Bulls, Yokohama B-Corsairs and Toyama Grouses, all of whom have 34-17 records, with one day remaining in the regular season. Playoff positions wil be finalized on Sunday.
Shuhei Komatsu led the Albirex with 20 points and knocked down 6 of 9 3-pointers. Chris Holm had a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds and Nile Murry added 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Rodney Webb also had a 14-point effort with eight rebounds. Yuiichi Ikeda scored 10 points and Taj Finger and Kimitake Sato had nine apiece for coach Matt Garrison’s squad.

Sendai trailed 50-38 at halftime.

T.J. Cummings paced the 89ers (20-31) with 26 points on 12-for-20 shooting and Sam Willard had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Sam Coleman scored 14 points and Takehiko Shimura dished out 11 assists with one turnover on the night.

B-Corsairs 124, Broncos 99
In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Yokohama attempted an astounding 53 3-pointers and sank 26 of them in a blowout win over the hosts.

Playing against the Broncos’ 2-3 zone, the B-Corsairs had great success shooting from the perimeter. Their Big Three — Masayuki Kabaya (39 points, 12-for-20 on 3s), Thomas Kennedy (37 points, 9-for-14) and Draelon Burns (20 points, 3-for-6) — combined for 96 points and 24-for-43 shooting from beyond the arc.

Seiji Kono added a career-high 14 points and drained a pair of 3s. Burns dished out a team-high six assists for Yokohama, which advanced to the Final Four as an expansion team last season.

The B-Corsairs scored 41 third-quarter points to take a 101-73 advantage into the final quarter.

“Good win tonight on the road in a must-win situation,” B-Corsairs coach Reggie Geary told The Japan Times. “Our big three combined for 96 points, and our defense for the most part was good.”

“Good contributions also from Shawn Malloy, Faye Pape Mour, Seiji Kono and Minoru Kimura on the defensive end.”

Despite a lopsided victory, Geary viewed the Sunday rematch this way: “We’re going to need the same type of toughness and focus from everyone tomorrow in the regular season finale if we hope to walk away with a win.”
The B-Corsairs only attempted 19 shots from 2-point range on the night.

John Humphrey led Saitama (15-36) with 35 points. Yuki Kitamuki scored 26 points and Nyika Williams had 13 points and 14 boards.

Grouses 89, Brave Warriors 72
In Chikuma, Nagano Prefecture, Toyama shot 60.7 percent from inside the arc and used a strong second quarter to build a comfortable lead against the hosts.

The Grouses outscored the Brave Warriors 22-8 in the second quarter and led 48-26 at the break.

Ira Brown had 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting (five dunks) with 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block for the Grouses. Jeremy Jacob and Angel Garcia each had 16 points, Takeshi Mito scored 11 points and Brandon Cole had 10 points and six boards. Masashi Joho scored eight points.

For Shinshu (17-34), Jermaine Green scored 18 points, Edward Morris had 17 and Michael Fey 10. Takato Saito dished out nine assists.

Big Bulls 82, Rizing 61
In Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, under the leadership of first-year coach Dai Oketani, Iwate routed the Rizing, and the Big Bulls have now won 15 more games than they did as an expansion franchise last season.

Versatile big man Lawrence Blackledge return to the Iwate lineup for the first time since mid-February due to a broken wrist. He played almost 24 minutes off the bench.

Carlos Dixon was the Big Bulls’ top scorer, finishing with 22 points, including 8-for-9 at the foul line. Reggie Okosa added 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists and Masato Tsukino had 12 points. Kenichi Takahashi and Blackledge finished with 11 points apiece.

Iwate scored 25 second-quarter points and held Fukuoka (33-18) to eight and led 44-18 entering the third quarter.

Reggie Warren had team-high totals in points (21), rebounds (15) and assists (five) for the Rizing, who shot 4-for-27 from 3-point range. Julius Ashby added nine points for Fukuoka.

Golden Kings 58, Evessa 57
In Osaka, Narito Namizato’s 3-pointer in the final second lifted reigning champion Ryukyu in a hard-fought game against the Evessa.

Namizato, a two-time All-Star guard, struggled shooting the ball, going 2-for-12 from the field, but his only 3 of the game was significant. He finished with five points and four assists.

Anthony McHenry had 20 points, seven rebounds and four steals for the Golden Kings (41-10), who have matched the league record for wins in a season set by the 2008-09 Golden Kings and 2009-10 Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix.

Dzaflo Larkai added 13 points and 15 boards for Ryukyu, which has won six straight games.

The Kings were 5-for-22 from beyond the arc. Jeff Newton had four points, eight rebounds and two blocks against his former team, playing 14-plus minutes in his third game back since knee surgery.

Dwayne Lathan was Osaka’s top scorer with 11 points. He had six of the Evessa’s 13 assists. Nathan Walkup scored 10 points and Shota Konno, Mike Bell and Shuichi Takeda all had six points for longtime NBA big man Bill Cartwright’s club, which has lost three straight games.

Rick Rickert had 13 rebounds and Bell grabbed 11 for the Evessa (22-29).

Susanoo Magic 82, Lakestars 75
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Jeral Davis and Michael Parker teamed up to carry Shimane past the hosts in a series that will determine playoff assignments for both Western Conference squads.

Davis scored a team-best 23 points, hauled in 17 rebounds and blocked five shots. Parker had 19 points, nine rebounds and eight steals. Brandon Freeman scored 18 points and Koki Yabuuchi and Tatsuhiro Yokoo both scored eight.

Shimane (33-18) was 29-for-48 on 2-point shots.

For Shiga (31-20), Wayne Arnold was the high scorer with 17 points and Shelton Colwell and Jumpei Nakama each had 16.

Crane Thunders 83, Jets 80
In Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, Dominique Keller scored 22 points and Yuto Okumoto contributed 18 as the Crane Thunders edged Chiba.

Point guard Jermaine Dixon energized Gunma (14-37) with 14 points, eight rebounds, seven steals, six assists and a block. Tatsuhiko Toshino added nine points.

Joe Werner, sidelined since March 24 with a groin injury, had 22 points, 21 rebounds and four steals for the Jets (25-26). Marquin Chandler scored 20 points, D’Andre Bell had 13 and Marquise Gray 11 with 10 rebounds.

Hannaryz 83, Phoenix 70
In Hamamatsu, Kyoto’s offense ran like a well-oiled machine in a victory over the hosts.

The Hannaryz shot 50 percent from 3-point range (5 of 10), 56.8 percent on 2s (25 of 44) and 18-for-23 at the free-throw line. They had assists on 25 of 30 baskets, with Yu Okada and Masaharu Kataoka leading the team with six assists apiece.

Gyno Pomare paced Kyoto (29-22) with 27 points and 10 rebounds. David Palmer scored 16 points, knocking down all three of his 3-point shots. Kataoka had 13 points and Marcus Cousin eight.

For the Phoenix (27-24), Kevin Galloway had 28 points and Elbert Fuqua and Atsuya Ota 12 apiece.

Northern Happinets, 72, Cinq Reves 58
In Akita, despite a poor rebounding effort, the Happinets escaped with a win over Tokyo.

Dion Harris and Shigehiro Taguchi scored 16 points apiece and rookie Yuki Togashi had 13 with six assists for Akita (26-25). Makoto Hasegawa, a 42-year-old guard who’s retiring after Sunday’s game, had two points and a steal in 10 minutes before the home crowd of 2,771.

Tokyo out-rebounded the hosts 66-35, but shot 20-for-66 from the field.

Ricky Woods had 18 points and 16 rebounds and Jonathan Davis scored 13 points with 22 boards for the Cinq Reves (17-34). Akihito Inoue poured in 10 points and Cohey Aoki had seven.