Alvark down Diamond Dolphins in Emperor’s Cup quarterfinals

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The Toyota Motors Alvark didn’t have much spark offensively, but still managed to finish with a W, thanks to their defensive efforts in a 67-56 win over the Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Dolphins in the quarterfinals of the All-Japan Championship on Sunday.

The Alvark will now go to the final four of the annual single-elimination tournament, which is dubbed the Emperor’s Cup, next weekend against the Aisin SeaHorses. Last year, the Tokyo-based team lost in the semifinals.

“We had a real hard time getting the rhythm in the game,” Toyota head coach Donald Beck said after the game at Yoyogi National Gymnasium. “Offensively, I wasn’t happy about the first two quarters, but the way we played in quarter three and quarter four was very good.”

Instead of relying on its offense, Toyota Motors gave itself the chance to win with its defense. It ended up holding the Diamond Dolphins to just 33.3 percent shooting percentage from inside the 3-point line. The Alvark shot 51.3 percent from the same area.

Yusuke Okada was the Alvark’s leading scorer with 11 points.

For Mitsubishi Electric, Amath M’baye, a former University of Oklahoma player, scored 18 points and Shogo Asayama followed with 17 points.

In the other quarterfinal game, Wakayama’s Rick Rickert put up a double-double with 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Trians to an 80-68 win over the Levanga Hokkaido.

The team won the title last year as the Panasonic Trians before the ownership changed and the club was relocated to Wakayama.

“We are a top-four team, if you look at the regular season standings, so we definitely wanted to make it to final four,” said Michael Parker of Wakayama, which currently has the NBL’s third-best record at 16-8. “We’ve made it here, so we want to keep pushing forward and let’s see how far we can go.”

The Trians will face the Toshiba Brave Thunders in the semis.

For the quarterfinals of the women’s bracket, the Toyota Motors Antelopes sank the Toyota Boshoku Sunshine Rabbits 81-55, while the Fujitsu RedWave crushed the Niigata Albirex BB Rabbits 82-49.