Toshiba prevails over Toyota in series opener

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Toshiba big man Nick Fazekas put up a double-double performance with 19 points and 20 rebounds as the Brave Thunders took the first game of a two-game series over their archrival Toyota Motors Alvark with a 73-65 win at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2 on Saturday.

Shooter Naoto Tsuji hit four of his six 3-point attempts and chipped in for Toshiba with 16 points. The 210-cm center Fazekas also blocked four shots by the Alvark.

The two teams have always played physical defensive games, and Saturday’s contest wasn’t any different. Up by just one at the half, Toshiba eventually prevailed thanks to its stingy defense. In the end, the Brave Thunders held the Alvark’s shooting percentage to just 30.0 percent (Toshiba shot 43.1 percent from the field.)

“We knew that we would have defensive battles (against Toyota),” Brave Thunders head coach Takuya Kita said after the game. “And we held them to 65 points, which was good.”

With the victory, the NBL Eastern Conference-leading Brave Thunders improved their record to 11-2 and widened their lead ahead of second-place Toyota (8-5) in the standings.

Asked if he thought his team is now more confident playing against Toyota, Kita replied, “I think so. But it’d be great to take both games, so we want to definitely win tomorrow.”

The Alvark had four double-digit scorers. Center Philip Ricci led the team with 12 points. Toyota out-grabbed Toshiba in offensive rebounding (24-14), but wasn’t able to take advantage.