Point guard Yuki Togashi sank a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds remaining and the Akita Northern Happinets completed a fourth-quarter comeback, defeating the Tokyo Cinq Reves 72-70 on Sunday in the bj-league.
Akita improved to a league-best 6-0 under third-year coach Kazuo Nakamura.
Togashi, a second-year pro, finished the weekend with 21 assists, including 11 on Sunday. He scored 10 points in the series finale, five big points in the decisive quarter, and is averaging 14.7 per game.
Tokyo showed more competitive fire in the rematch after being blown out in the series opener, 90-59, on Saturday night. The Cinq Reves (1-3) were without the services of high-flying forward Ricky Woods, who sat out the game due to a knee injury sustained on Saturday at Tachikawa Municipal Izumi Gymnasium. He’s expected to have the knee examined on Monday.
Chas McFarland (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Ruben Boykin (13 points, 17 boards) provided the inside muscle for the Happinets, who trailed 37-30 at halftime.
Newcomer Richard Roby was an energizing presence for Akita, playing a relentless style that gave his teammates a needed boost during sluggish stretches of the game. Roby added 17 points and three crucial blocked shots, his arms and legs all over the court like an octopus pursuing its next meal. Shigehiro Taguchi also cracked double digits in points, draining three 3-pointers in an 11-point afternoon.
Though Taguchi went 1-for-9 from beyond the arc, he never appeared to lose faith in his shot or his ability to make plays for his teammates. And that was a pivotal aspect of the Happinets rally. He looked calm and focused in crunch time.
Tokyo, guided by second-year coach Motofumi Aoki, opened the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run capped by a Yuji Ide 3-pointer. That gave the Cinq Reves a 60-51 advantage.
But not for long. Akita worked the ball inside to Roby, who earned a trip to the charity stripe and made two shots. He scored on a nifty scoop shot seconds later to cut it to 60-55, but missed a chance for a three-point play when his subsequent free throw was off the mark.
With 5:18 to go, Roby again penetrated through traffic and was rewarded for his efforts. He sank 1 of 2 free throws to make it a four-point game.
An official timeout followed at the 4:52 mark. Tokyo’s Edward Morris (16 points) canned a jumper to push the lead back to six.
The momentum had swung to Akita, though, and Roby converted a layup to trim the Tokyo lead to 62-61 with about 2:50 remaining.
Boykin tied it at 63-63 on a forceful putback, then Tokyo went ahead by a deuce, thanks to Morris inside.
Ide, exhibiting take-control and go-to scorer qualities in the early stages of this season, drained a jumper to put Tokyo in front 67-63. But Togashi remained poised and found space to fire up a 3 to slash the deficit to 67-66 as the game clock approached the final minute.
After Cinq Reves center Anthony Stover missed two free throws with 1:04 left, the ball was back in Togashi’s hands.
Smart move for Akita. Togashi delivered a pass to Yuto Otsuka, who knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing, and Northern Happinets fans jumped to their feet with joy. That put Akita in front 69-67.
Morris’ 3-pointer missed on Tokyo’s next possession, but the late-game drama was not over yet.
McFarland earned a trip to the foul line with 11.4 seconds left and made the second of two shots, stretching the lead to 70-67.
In the blink of an eye, Ide, a seldom-used Shimane backup last season who scored 34 points in the season opener, attempted a catch-and-shoot 3 from the right elbow. Swish. It silenced the Akita fans and tied the score at 70-70 with 8.4 ticks on the clock.
And then there was time remaining for one dramatic moment, which Togashi delivered. Driving through the crowded lane with bodies bumping into one another and players from both teams slipping or losing balance, Togashi drew the whistle from referee Daigo Urushima. Contact appeared to have been made by several players on both teams, but the foul on Togashi was tough to spot from the baseline press table.
Nevertheless, with 1.4 seconds remaining, the 20-year-old rising star was at the line with a chance to extend his team’s winning streak to start the season.
Both free throws were good, and Ide’s long 3 wasn’t as the buzzer sounded.
After the game, Aoki admitted his “team’s effort was there,” speaking to the crowd on the court. “We’re a young team,” the coach said, “and we’re building something (here). . . . It was an exciting game today.”
Ide scored a team-high 23 points for Tokyo and Akihito Inoue, looking more athletic and quick this season after an injury-plagued 2012-13 campaign, poured in 17.
Hannaryz 60, Susanoo Magic 57
In Unnan, Shimane Prefecture, Joe Werner scored a game-high 21 points and hauled in 12 rebounds and Chris Holm collected 15 boards as Kyoto completed a two-game sweep over the hosts.
Shimane fell to 0-6. Kyoto raised its record to 4-0.
David Palmer added a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) for the Hannaryz.
In a low-scoring contest, Kyoto outscored Shimane 9-6 in the second quarter, but trailed 27-21 at the break.
Jeral Davis had a triple-double for the Magic, finishing with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. Koki Yabuuchi scored 15 points and Thomas Kennedy and Shawn Malloy each had eight.
Albirex BB 67, Wat’s 57
In Aomori, Nile Murry guided Niigata to a bounce-back victory over the Wat’s, scoring 17 points and raking in eight rebounds.
Rodney Webb had 12 points for the Albirex (3-3) and Kimitake Sato and Yuichi Ikeda had nine apiece.
For Aomori, a first-year franchise, Eric May scored 17 points, Gordon Klaiber netted nine and Anthony Kent and Yuta Kojima both had eight. The Wat’s slipped to 2-4.
Grouses 82, 89ers 65
In Toyama, Masashi Joho reached 20 points for the fourth consecutive game and Ira Brown added 19 points and 14 rebounds to lead coach Bob Nash’s club to a sweep over Sendai.
Joho, averaging 22.5 points per game (second in the league), led all players with 21 points. Teammate Takeshi Mito chipped in with 12 points, Josh Gross had 11 and Sam Willard provided seven points and 11 rebounds for Toyama (4-0).
James Hughes paced Sendai (2-4) with 18 points, Travele Jones had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Wendell White and Yasuhiko Wada added 10 apiece.
The 89ers missed 19 of 23 3-point shots.
B-Corsairs 86, Broncos 74 (OT)
In Saitama, defending champion Yokohama outscored the hosts 17-5 in overtime to pick up the win and earn a series split.
Marquise Gray was the B-Corsairs’ leading scorer with 32 points on 14-for-22 shooting. Masayuki Kabaya added 25 points, including 12-for-13 at the free-throw line, and seven assists. Omar Reed contributed 12 points, nine boards and three steals for Yokohama (2-2) and Wayne Marshall scored eight points. Kenji Yamada had five assists.
For Saitama (2-4), Michael Joiner scored 16 points, John Humphrey pumped in 13 and Anwar Ferguson 12.
Phoenix 68, Rizing 67
In Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Jermaine Dixon’s 21 points and identical 11-point, 11-rebound outings by Aki Chambers and Cyrus Tate guided Hamamatsu Higashimikawa to its second victory in as many days over Fukuoka.
Deshawn Stephens scored 10 points for the Phoenix (3-3).
Reggie Warren paced the Rizing (3-3) with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Cohey Aoki finished with 17 points and five assists. Keisuke Takabatake had an eighth-point afternoon. Akitomo Takeno dished out five assists, but was held to zero points on 0-for-5 shooting. Fukuoka is 0-2 in games that Takeno doesn’t score this season.
Evessa 75, HeatDevils 72
In Saeki, Oita Prefecture, before a sparse crowd, Osaka completed a series sweep, getting another big game from Kevin Galloway.
Galloway poured in a game-high 24 points for the Evessa (4-0). A season ago, they were 5-19 when former Chicago Bulls bench boss Bill Cartwright took over as head coach in mid-January, just after the All-Star Game.
Naoto Nakamura, a key contributor during the Evessa dynasty run under Kensaku Tennichi, canned three 3s in a 16-point afternoon for Osaka, which revamped its roster for new coach Shunsuke Todo in the offseason. Bringing back veterans Nakamura and Haruyuki Ishibashi provided a link to the team’s glory years as it sought to build a new era of excellence.
Big man Dillion Sneed scored 14 points and Yosuke Sugawara and Sam Green had eight apiece for the visitors.
Taishiro Shimizu led Oita (2-4) with 17 points and Verdell Jones III scored 14, as did Gabe McCulley. Devonne Giles finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Brave Warriors 83, Bambitious 81
In Chikuma, Nagano Prefecture, Shota Konno scored 20 points, getting that total or more for the third game in a row and giving Shinshu a big spark in a narrow victory over Nara.
The Brave Warriors sank 18 of 20 free throws to improve to 3-1 on the season.
Patrick Sanders delivered a 17-point effort and Jeffrey Parmer added 16 points, four assists and two steals for Shinshu. Teammate Shoji Nakanishi contributed nine points.
For Nara (0-6), Taishi Kasahara scored a season-high 22 points and Adrian Moss added 20. Joe Chapman supplied 11 points and five assists and Tatsuya Suzuki registered eight assists, topping his season-best total of seven from the series opener.
Lakestars 79, Golden Kings 71
In Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, Marshall Brown’s 25-point afternoon put the exclamation point on the Lakestars’ victory over Ryukyu, and the Western Conference rivals split their weekend series.
Shelton Colwell scored 14 points, Yutaka Yokoe had 12 and Brandon Fields added 10 points and six assists for Shiga (4-2).
Temple University alum Scootie Randall had 21 points for Ryukyu (4-2) and Naoto Kosuge buried six 3s to account for all his points. Anthony McHenry added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Kings big man Jeff Newton had two points in 4:12 of court time. He played 6 minutes in the opener. Ryukyu is taking a cautious approach with Newton, who has been bothered by knee pain, giving him extra time to rest instead of logging major minutes.