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Hamamatsu beats Tokyo for fifth straight win

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix are hitting their stride as the second half of the season begins.

Coach Tomoya Higashino’s squad extended its winning streak to five games on Friday, beating the host Tokyo Cinq Reves 75-69.

Fueled by high-energy veterans and all-around depth, the Phoenix (17-11) have continued their ascent in the packed Western Conference, climbing to their current spot, third place. The Kyoto Hannaryz (18-10) occupy second place and the Ryukyu Golden Kings (21-3) are in first.

The 52-game season features a number of ups and downs that will impact the final standings. But Hamamatsu has played well on the road, improving to 8-6 away games to close out the series at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2.

Floor leader Jermaine Dixon, brother of former NBA guard Juan Dixon, led the Phoenix with 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. He made 4 of 9 3-pointers. Big man Cyrus Tate added 17 points and eight rebounds and frontcourt mate Atsuya Ota contributed 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting (matching his season-high scoring total), five boards, four assists and two steals. Masahiro Oguchi, meanwhile, continued his steady play of late, with 11 points, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

Oguchi, who turned 38 on Jan. 6, is averaging 13.2 points in the past nine games, helping the Phoenix post six victories in that span. His season average is 7.0 ppg.

The Phoenix led 37-30 at the half and outperformed the Cinq Reves down the stretch.

Tokyo (6-20 overall, 2-10 at home) has lost nine straight games and 11 of its last 12.

Ricky Woods paced the hosts with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Takuro Ito added 12 points and Anthony Stover had 10 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots. Edward Morris chipped in with seven points and seven boards.

Tokyo turned the ball over 17 times and shot 5-for-23 from 3-point range.

Both teams return to action on Feb. 1 after the eighth annual All-Star Game, which will be held on Jan. 26 in Akita.