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Aomori collects victory in bj-league debut; Nara falls to Osaka

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Aomori Wat’s and Bambitious Nara, the bj-league’s expansion teams for the 2013-14 season, experienced mixed results on Saturday.

Aomori triumphed at home in its first-ever game, and Nara lost on the road as described below.

Wat’s 68, Big Bulls 53

In Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, coach Koju Munakata’s club jumped out to a 19-9 advantage after one quarter and held on for a 15-point victory over Iwate.

Guard Yuki Kitamuki paced Aomori with 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Big man Anthony Kent provided 12 points and seven rebounds and Eric May scored 10. Abdullahi Kuso pumped in nine points and Makoto Sawaguchi and Gordon Klaiber both had seven points.

Kuso, who starred for the now-defunct Miyazaki Shining Suns last season, grabbed 10 rebounds and the Wat’s finished with 46, 13 more than the Big Bulls.

Aomori converted 51.1 percent of its shots from inside the arc (24 of 47). For Iwate, that number was 35.4 (17 of 48).

Gyno Pomare scored 17 points for the Big Bulls and fellow newcomer Brian Carlwell had 11. Masato Tsukino supplied seven. Josh Peppers, a potent scorer, was 1-for-10 from the field and had four points in his first game with Iwate.

Evessa 87, Bambitious 78

In Osaka, center Dillion Sneed, an All-Star last season, pumped in 22 points and converted 10 of 14 shots from 2-point range, including three dunks, and Naoto Nakamura knocked down five 3-pointers in an electrifying 17-point performance against new Kansai rival Nara.

Shunsuke Todo picked up a victory in his first game on the Evessa bench. He replaced former Chicago Bulls coach Bill Cartwright, who led the club for the final 28 games of the 2012-13 campaign.

Kevin Galloway flirted with a triple-double for Osaka. He had 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists and Marcus Capers scored 11 points, while Yosuke Sugawara added 10.

Osaka made 15 steals and forced 23 turnovers.

The Bambitious led 29-17 after the opening period, but Osaka closed the gap to 40-39 at halftime.

Joe Chapman canned six 3s and led Nara with 25 points. Jamar Abrams added 13 points, Taishi Kasahara had 12 and Anthony Brown 10.

Northern Happinets 74, Phoenix 61

In Akita, Richard Roby scored 20 points and Chas McFarland and Ruben Boykin each had 15 as the trio enjoyed a successful debut for the hosts.

Hamamatsu Higashimikawa committed 26 turnovers in the loss, including Kevin Young’s eight.

Young and Cyrus Tate paced the Phoenix with 12 points apiece, while Aki Chambers had nine and Atsuya Ota eight. Tate led all players with 14 rebounds; Bokyin hauled in 13, as did Young.

Yuki Togashi dished out seven assists for Akita, but turned the ball over seven times.

Albirex BB 75, 89ers 60

In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, the hosts made a winner of Fujitaka Hiraoka, a longtime assistant, in his head coaching debut.

Six Niigata players had eight or more points, including Rodney Webb (16), Patrick Sullivan (14) and Lamar Roberson (11).
Coming of a Final Four season, returning Albirex standout Nile Murry dropped in nine points and collected eight rebounds and four steals. Meanwhile, Niigata veterans Yuichi Ikeda and Kimitake Sato poured in nine and eight points, respectively. Sullivan raked in a game-best 14 rebounds.

Sendai coach Shuto Kawachi lost his first game in charge.

The 89ers were 6-for-28 from 3-point range.

Travele Jones and Dzaflo Larkai each had 13-point outings for the 89ers. Big man James Hughes scored 10 points and Yasuaki Arai had nine. Former league MVP Wendell White added six points and 11 rebounds.

Crane Thunders 72, Broncos 71

In Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, guard Masashi Obuchi put his stamp on the game with a seven-point, six-rebound, five-assist, eight-steal performance and the Crane Thunders opened their second season with a narrow victory over Saitama.

Serbian post player Darko Cohadarevic scored 18 points for Gunma and Trey Britton had 15. Marvell Waithe chipped in with 14 points in the win. Kenya Tomori scored 10 points for good measure.

John “Helicopter” Humphrey was the high scorer for the Broncos with a 30-point effort. Theo Little added 13 points and Michael Joiner notched a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds).

Golden Kings 77, HeatDevils 73

In Oita, Ryuichi Kishimoto drained 5 of 10 3-point shots en route to a team-best 19 points as Ryukyu completed a two-game sweep to kick off the season.

Reigning regular-season MVP Anthony McHenry finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal for the perennial powerhouse Golden Kings. Newcomer Scootie Randall, a Temple University product, poured in 12 points and Naoto Kosuge canned three 3s in an 11-point afternoon.

Big man Kibwe Trim contributed 11 points and nine rebounds and frontcourt mainstay Jeff Newton added five points, eight boards and a block.

Ryukyu held a 46-29 edge in rebounds.

Oita made 20 of 25 free throws.

Indiana University alum Verdell Jones III was 11-for-13 from inside the 3-point arc and scored 29 points overall. He added nine rebounds, five assists and four steals. Teammates Gabe McCulley and Devonne Giles scored 16 and 10 points, respectively. Veteran guard Taishiro Shimizu, who has played in the league since its inception in 2005, had nine points and seven assists.

Lakestars 74, Susanoo Magic 59

In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Shiga outscored the hosts 19-6 in the second quarter and kept its poise in the second half to collect a win over Greek sideline supervisor Vlasios Vlaikidis’ club.

Shimane struggled from the perimeter, shooting 2-for-23 from beyond the arc.

For new Lakestars coach Chris Boettcher’s squad, Marshall Brown led the way with 18 points, Brandon Fields poured in 17 and Dionisio Gomez had 16 points and 16 rebounds. Big man Shelton Colwell scored 12 points with 10 boards.

Jeral Davis finished the game with 15 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Thomas Kennedy had 12 points and eight boards. Koki Yabuuchi contributed 11 points and five assists and Adrian Thomas scored 10.

Rizing 91, Five Arrows 76

In Takamatsu, Seth Tarver had 21 points to lead high-scoring Fukuoka past the Five Arrows.

After finishing as the championship runnerup last season, the Rizing got off to a good start in their season opener, getting a double-double from macho forward Reggie Warren (11 points, 16 rebounds), 16 points from Akitomo Takeno and 14 from floor leader Jun Nakanishi. Seven-time All-Star Cohey Aoki chipped in with seven points in his first game for his hometown club. Takeno handed out a team-high four assists, with five teammates also dishing out two or three.

Dexter Lyons paced Takamatsu with 22 points and Andrais Thornton added 20 points and nine rebounds.

Fukuoka scored 33 points in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Kings open season with victory

The Ryukyu Golden Kings overpowered the host Oita HeatDevils on Friday, winning 91-56 in the bj-league season opener for both teams.

Ryukyu won coach Tsutomu Isa’s debut game in charge, taking a 17-point lead into the second quarter. Oita trailed 62-33 entering the fourth quarter.

The Golden Kings increased their scoring output in each of the four 10-minute periods, from 17 to 18 to 27 to 29.

Point guard Masaya Karimata dished out six assists for Ryukyu. Yoshiki Yamashiro pumped in 16 points and shot 7-for-9 from the field. Scootie Randall added nine points in his first regular-season game for the Kings and Naoto Kosuge and second-year pro Ryuichi Kishimoto had eight points apiece.

For the HeatDevils, guard Verdell Jones III had 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting with five assists, three blocks and two steals.