The Ryukyu Golden Kings boosted their championship hopes by signing Draelon Burns earlier this month, and the DePaul University product has made a seamless transition to the Western Conference powerhouse.
Coming off the bench, Burns scored 11 points and dished out eight assists on Saturday as Ryukyu cruised past host Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix 85-69.
The Golden Kings (11-2) are 3-0 since Burns, who played a major role in leading the Yokohama B-Corsairs to the bj-league title in May, joined the team and extended their winning streak to seven games. They have won nine of their last 10 games.
Anthony McHenry put his stamp on the game from the get-go and finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks. Ryuichi Kishimoto poured in 16 points and knocked down 3 of 4 3-point shots. Shigeyuki Kinjo added nine points and big men Jeff Newton and Kibwe Trim scored eight points apiece for coach Tsutomu Isa’s club.
Ryukyu buried 9 of 14 3s in the win in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.
Hamamatsu fell to 8-5.
Ray Nixon paced the Phoenix with 16 points, Cyrus Tate scored 13 and Deshawn Stephens had 10. Jermaine Dixon contributed eight points and 12 assists.
The Kings put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter with a 32-point output in the closing 10 minutes.
Northern Happinets 88, Albirex BB 76
In Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, Richard Roby scored a game-high 27 points and Akita crashed the boards to rake in 27 offensive rebounds in a win over the hosts.
The Northern Happinets improved to a league-best 14-1. Ruben Bokyin, a Northern Arizona alum, scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds (seven offensive). Yuki Togashi added 13 points and nine assists and Chas McFarland had 11 points, eight boards and two blocks. Yuto Otsuka pumped in nine points.
Roby had nine rebounds and four steals. Akita finished with just six turnovers.
For Niigata (10-5), Patrick Sullivan had team-high totals in points (25) and rebounds (11) and converted 12 of 17 shots from the field. Nile Murry added 20 points and Rodney Webb and Kimitake Sato each had 12.
Five Arrows 74, Evessa 69
In Takamatsu, a strong second quarter carried the hosts to their second victory in as many days over Osaka, which dropped its eighth straight game.
After the opening quarter, the score was tied 18-18. Then Five Arrows coach Kenzo Maeda’s club outscored the Evessa 19-5 to take a 37-23 advantage into halftime.
Dexter Lyons, who had 35 points in an overtime triumph on Friday, led Takamatsu with 18 points in the rematch. Paul Williams had 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds. Masaaki Suzuki scored nine points and Tsubasa Yonezawa had eight for the Five Arrows (5-7), while Hiroyuki Kikuchi had a seven-point afternoon.
“Great wins,” Lyons wrote on his Facebook page after the series finale. “These weekend games showed that with team defense and every player being aggressive on offense we can control our own destiny…”
The Evessa (6-8) held a 47-41 edge in rebounds, with Dillion Sneed, Zach Andrews and Kevin Galloway all grabbing eight boards.
Sneed scored a team-high 16 points, Yosuke Sugawara had 13 and Naoto Nakamura scored 12. Galloway shot 0-for-9 from the field in a four-point outing, and also dished out seven assists with seven turnovers.
Susanoo Magic 85, Bambitious 74
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, in a matchup of struggling teams, Jeral Davis scored 27 points and Edward Yamamoto had a season-best 20 on 7-for-10 shooting as the hosts beat Nara in the series opener.
Davis, who made 12 of 22 shots from the field, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. Shawn Malloy added 12 points and 13 rebounds for Shimane (2-11). Tatsuhiro Yokoo poured in 10 points for coach Vlasios Vlaikidis’ squad. Adrian Thomas had seven points and Koki Yabuuchi handed out five assists.
For the Bambitious (2-11), Adrian Moss finished with 25 points and 12 boards and Joe Chapman had 22 points. Anthony Brown contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds and Tatsuya Suzuki dished out five assists.
Shimane snapped a four-game losing streak and topped the 80-point plateau for only the third time this season.
Rizing 72, Crane Thunders 71
In Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, Fukuoka’s Reggie Warren and Julius Ashby both had double-doubles and guard Akitomo Takeno celebrated his 28th birthday with a victory.
Warren led the Rizing (6-7), playing their first game since Kimitoshi Sano was officially promoted to head coach, with 17 points and 15 rebounds and Ashby had 14 points, 12 boards and two blocks. Michael Dale had a 13-point performance and Cohey Aoki finished with eight points. Takeno added five points and four assists, which matched Dale’s team-high total. Satoshi Ishitani chipped in with six points.
Kenya Tomori led Gunma (2-11) with 21 points and Marvell Waithe had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“We gave this game to Fukuoka,” Crane Thunders coach Ryan Blackwell told The Japan Times. “Give them credit for fighting until the end and making plays that they needed to. But we shouldn’t lose when we are up 10 with less than 5 minutes to go.
“We are playing much better, though, overall but we need more of our players to step up and make plays during crucial times of the game.”
Grouses 86, B-Corsairs 77
In Nyuzen, Toyama Prefecture, Ira Brown scored 20 points and hauled in 12 rebounds and Tatsunori Fujie poured in 18 points as the Grouses beat Yokohama.
Josh Gross had 13 points for Toyama (12-1), Takeshi Mito scored 11, Masashi Joho added 10 with five assists and Sam Willard collected 11 rebounds.
Wayne Marshall scored 23 points for the B-Corsairs (6-7) and Marquise Gray and Omar Reed both had 18. Masayuki Kabaya finished with 12 points.
Yokohama missed 16 of 20 3-pointers.
Lakestars 68, Cinq Reves 65
In Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, Tokyo’s fourth-quarter comeback fell short in a loss to the Lakestars.
Shiga held a 16-point cushion entering the final stanza before being outscored 22-9 the rest of the way.
Marshall Brown led the Lakestars (7-6) with 15 points along with 10 rebounds and three assists. Dionisio Gomez had 14 points, 10 boards and four steals and Brandon Fields scored nine points with five assists. Shelton Colwell added eight points and Yutaka Yokoe had seven for the hosts.
Ricky Woods supplied 20 points and 14 rebounds for Tokyo (4-9). Cinq Reves forward Edward Morris had 17 point and nine boards and Anthony Stover finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Yuji Ide scored eight points and chalked up eight assists.
HeatDevils 61, Hannaryz 57
In Oita, the HeatDevils overcame 1-for-14 shooting from beyond the 3-pont arc by converting 78.3 percent from the charity stripe and limiting their turnovers (eight) in a narrow win over Kyoto.
Oita sank 18 of 23 free throws; Kyoto made 12 of 23.
The HeatDevils (8-5) have won five in a row.
Devonne Giles led the victors with 22 points and 15 rebounds and Verdell Jones III had 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Taishiro Shimizu netted 11 points for Oita and Shuichi Takada had 10.
Edwin Ubiles was Kyoto’s top scorer with 17 points, Joe Warner contributed 16 points and 14 rebounds and David Palmer had 10 points and nine boards. Shun Watanuki dished out six assists.
First coaching victory
Former Tokyo Apache assistant coach Casey Hill picked up his first win as an NBA Development League head coach on Friday, guiding the Santa Cruz Warriors to a season-opening, 121-102 home win over the Austin Toros.
Santa Cruz’s Seth Curry electrified the sell-out crowd with a game-best 36 points.
“He’s a special player. … He does everything for us,” Hill said of Curry, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “He does a great job, so all we have to do is keep him on that high.
“If we can keep him on that high, we should be all right.”