Kanamaru drills late 3-pointer to lead Aisin past Toyota

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Aisin sharpshooter Kosuke Kanamaru hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left in the final quarter to propel the SeaHorses to a 78-76 win over the Toyota Motors Alvark in NBL interconference action at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2 on Friday night.

Kanamaru, who joined the Aichi Prefecture-based club this year, had a game-high 21 points, and center J.R. Sakuragi chipped in with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

With the victory, Aisin, a Western Conference team, improved to a league-leading 22-1, while the Alvark’s winning streak was snapped at eight.

Forward/center Jeff Gibbs guided Toyota (16-7) with 14 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

With the Alvark down 75-73, Ken Tanaka put his team ahead by one as he made a three-point play with 58 seconds left in the game. But on its probable last offensive play, Sakuragi dished a perfect pass from underneath the basket to Kanamaru, who was wide open beyond the 3-point arc and smoothly took the shot from downtown.

“The ball came in my hands, so I just launched the shot with no hesitation,” said Kanamaru, who’s the team’s leading scorer (16.7 points per game). “I really didn’t think anything. Of course, I didn’t think I’d miss it.”