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Warren ignites Fukuoka in triumph over Toyama

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Reggie Warren, one of the elite forwards in bj-league history, delivered a gutsy performance in the Rizing Fukuoka’s first game of 2014.

The University of West Florida product finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds and three assists in the Rizing’s 80-77 triumph over the visiting Toyama Grouses in interconference play on Saturday afternoon in the bj-league.

Fukuoka (9-14) shot just 40.7 percent from 2-point range, but edged Toyama in overall rebounds (50-49).

“It just feels good to get a win and a win over a good, well-coached team at that,” Warren told The Japan Times after the Rizing snapped a seven-game losing streak. “Hopefully we can build on this, gain some confidence and come out ready to play tomorrow.”

Rizing guards Akitomo Takeno and Cohey Aoki scored 15 and 12 points, respectively, with Aoki dishing out a team-high four assists. Small forward Seth Tarver added nine points for the Rizing,while Jun Nakanishi contributed six points and three steals.

Toyama fell to 19-6.

Masashi Joho paced the Grouses with 23 points and Ira Brown had 19 points, 14 rebounds and four steals. Takeshi Mito finished with 11 points and Josh Gross added eight points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. Sam Willard supplied seven points and nine rebounds. Tatsunori Fujie struggled with his shot, going 2-for-11 from the field in a five-point performance.

Toyama coach Bob Nash, a former NBA forward, provided his post-game perspective to The Japan Times.

“Tonight was not the Grouses’ best game as we went down in defeat to the Rizing Fukuoka on the road,” Nash told this newspaper. “Fukuoka played well together, as they had four players in double figures. They put their seven-game losing streak behind them in (the) new year and played very well tonight.

“We had our chances to take control of the game, but we made too many errors.”

Nash admitted his team faced a formidable foe.

“Let’s not forget Fukuoka was in the championship game last season, so they are capable of beating anyone,” he said. “Tonight I give all the credit to Fukuoka, they played well and they were well-coached.

“We will correct our mistakes and do our best tomorrow and we will see if our effort is good enough tomorrow to challenge Fukuoka.”

With a quality start to the season, Nash recognizes that one game does not paint an accurate picture of how his team has played to date.

“We are approaching the halfway point in the season, so it is too early to get excited or disappointed about a single game,” the coach said. “We will learn from this game obviously, but we need to forget it and focus on the next game.”

HeatDevils 83, Hannaryz 70

In Fukuchiyama, Kyoto Prefecture, led by Gabe McCulley’s 17-point effort, five Oita players scored in double figures to carry the team to victory over the Hannaryz.

McCulley grabbed 11 rebounds (six offensive), helping the HeatDevils (13-12 overall, 9-6 on the road) control the boards. Oita finished with 43 rebounds to Kyoto’s 32.

Taishiro Shimizu flushed 4 of 5 3-point chances and scored 16 points while dishing out four assists. Indiana University product Verdell Jones III added 15 points and six assists and Devonne Giles had 11 points and nine rebounds. Manabu Umemiya scored 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting, canning both of his 3-point shots.

Oita drained 10 of 15 3s and made exactly 50 percent (22-for-44) from inside the arc.

Kyoto (16-9) also attempted 15 3s, but made just four of them.

David Palmer was the Hannaryz’s high scorer with 13 points and Shun Watanuki had 12. Chris Holm added 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks and Joe Werner scored 10 points, while Edwin Ubiles had eight and Kyosuke Setoyama seven.

Five Arrows 85, Crane Thunders 75

In Takamatsu, center Paul Williams was a one-man wrecking crew against visiting Gunma.

Williams netted 25 points on 11-for-12 shooting and hauled in 15 rebounds — game-high totals in both categories — to lead the Five Arrows to a series-opening win.

Takamatsu (12-11) is now above .500 this late in the season for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign when original coach Motofumi Aoki, who’s now the Tokyo Cinq Reves’ sideline supervisor, was at the helm. The Five Arrows were 33-19 that season after going 25-15 in 2006-07 and 30-14 the next season.

Since then, the Shikoku-based club has been among the league’s bottom-feeders, going 13-39 in 2009-10 under John Neumann as the team’s financial backing plunged during the economic crisis. But the Five Arrows have enjoyed a resurgence this season under third-year bench boss Kenzo Maeda, who endured a 2-50 campaign in 2011-12, followed by last season’s 22-30 revival.

On Saturday, Takamatsu’s Sean Smith scored 15 points and collected four steals and Dexter Lyons had 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Hiroyuki Kikuchi, who has played for the Five Arrows since 2006, sank 3 of 5 3s for all of his points. Yukio Kishimoto poured in seven points and Yusuke Kodera and Tsubasa Yonezawa both had six as the hosts wore down the Crane Thunders.

For Gunma (4-19), Carlos Dixon led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds. Darko Cohadarevic scored 17 points and Shingo Okada contributed 13.

The Crane Thunders missed 21 of 25 3-point attempts.

Bambitious 75, Lakestars 69

In Nara, Joe Chapman provided a spark from long range, making five 3-pointers en route to 25 points to guide the hosts past Shiga.

Chapman, who attended Marquette University, finished with six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Anthony Brown had 15 points and eight rebounds. Former University of Florida player Adrian Moss scored 10 points, grabbed 12 boards and dished out four assists as the Bambitious (6-17) won their first game of 2014.

Nara, an expansion squad, converted 11 of 29 3s; Shiga shot 4-for-19.

Dioniso Gomez had 21 points to lead the Lakestars (11-14) and Marshall Brown scored 19 points with nine rebounds. Shelton Colwell had 12 points and Yutake Yokoe chipped in with five assists.

Shiga struggled at the free-throw line, making 9 of 18.