The Saturday showdown between the Western Conference’s second- and third-place teams turned into a rout.
Six Kyoto Hannaryz players scored in double figures and the visitors routed the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix 101-73.
The Phoenix (27-16) trailed 45-32 after two quarters, and never recovered.
Kyoto added 30 third-quarter points to put the game away.
Chris Holm led the Hannaryz (24-15) with 21 points and 19 rebounds, Yu Okada poured in 17 points and ex-Washington Wizard Edwin Ubiles had 16 points. Takuya Komoda had 14 points, David Palmer netted 13 and Shun Watanuki had 10.
Kyoto made 30 2-point field goals (54.5 percent); Hamamatsu had 14, while shooting 38.9 percent from inside the arc.
Jermaine Dixon was the top scorer for the Phoenix, scoring 27 points. Aki Chambers had 14 and Dior Lowhorn had 12.
Dixon was furious about the way the contest was officiated on Saturday.
After the game, Dixon issued this statement to The Japan Times: “These refs are very bad in this league; at some point this has to change. They mess up the flow of every game with terrible calls.”
Dixon admitted he was disgusted with game officials about this specific game, too.
“The head coach of Kyoto (Honoo Hamaguchi) told the ref to give me a tech today and he gave me one,” Dixon said. “Then the coach said to me, ‘Yes I told the ref to give you a tech. Do you want another, so you can be ejected?’ Something’s got to change.”
Dixon didn’t pick up a second technical.
Brave Warriors 93, Big Bulls 74
In Chikuma, Nagano Prefecture, coach Ryuji Kawai’s club shot 55.8 percent from 2-point range and held Iwate to 41.4 in a strong showing in the series opener.
Shinshu (25-14) improved to 2-1 against the Big Bulls, the East’s third-place team.
Big man Xavier Gibson had a busy night for the Brave Warriors, providing 23 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Patrick Sanders scored 16 points with a team-high five assists and Jeff Parmer had 14. Guard Yosuke Saito added nine points.
Lawrence Blackledge led Iwate (28-11) with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Kenichi Takahashi scored 14 points. Gyno Pomare and Scootie Randall had 12 points apiece and Masato Tsukino scored 10.
Evessa 101, Grouses 97 (OT)
In Toyama, D’Andre Bell’s 25-point performance guided Osaka to an overtime triumph over the Grouses.
Darko Cohadarevic poured in 21 points for the Evessa (18-23) and Naoto Nakamura delivered a vintage 16-point game, knocking down four 3s, a flashback to his days as a go-to perimeter option under former coach Kensaku Tennichi.
Zach Andrews chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds and Kevin Galloway had 14 points and nine assists for Osaka in this back-and-forth duel.
Gonzaga product Ira Brown paced Toyama (31-10) with 26 points and five assists. He was 12-for-13 at the charity stripe. Teammate Masashi Joho scored 21 points and Tatsunori Fujie added 14.
B-Corsairs 80, Wat’s 53
In Yokohama, the defending champions started strong and finished strong, too.
Aomori trailed 24-11 after one quarter, and was outscored 20-11 in the closing quarter.
Omar Reed paced Yokohama (18-21) with 20 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, adding five assists for good measure. Michigan State alum Marquise Gray provided 19 points (three dunks), 10 boards and four assists. Marcus Simmons had 11 points and captain Masayuki Kabaya added eight points, six assists and a pair of steals.
The B-Corsairs’ passing numbers were impressive: 26 assists, nine turnovers.
For the Wat’s, a first-year franchise, Stanley Ocitti was the lone double-digit scorer with 17 points. Gordon Klaiber had eight points, but shot 2-for-13 from the field, and Makoto Sawaguchi contributed seven points. Anthony Kent hauled in 12 rebounds in the loss.
Aomori fell to 19-20.
Lakestars 84, Bambitious 78
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Brandon Fields scored 21 points, Shelton Colwell had 16 and the Lakestars dominated on the boards in a narrow victory over Nara.
Shiga (22-19) out-rebounded the visitors 62-40, including 28-12 on the offensive glass.
Dionisio Gomez scored 11 points and shared the team high in rebounds (11) with Colwell. Marshall Brown chipped in with 11 points and a team-best four assists. Yutaka Yokoe and Shuto Mizoguchi finished with eight points apiece.
The Lakestars’ 27 third-quarter points helped the team build some momentum after trailing by six at halftime. Nara was held to 16 points in the period.
Anthony Brown paced the Bambitious (12-27) with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Jamar Abrams added 12 points and Jumpei Honda, Tatsuya Suzuki and Joe Chapman all had 10. Chapman was the expansion team’s assist leader (seven), while Suzuki handed out five.
Northern Happinets 102, Crane Thunders 94
In Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture, Akita drained a jaw-dropping 18 of 35 3-point shots in a victory over the Crane Thunders.
Second-year pro Yuki Togashi, the All-Star Game MVP, made 6 of 7 3s in a 26-point, nine-assist performance. Shigehiro Taguchi buried 5 of 13 3s and scored 21, while sharpshooter Yuto Otsuka was 5-for-9 from long range in a 15-point outing.
With the aforementioned trio knocking down shots with regularity, Deshawn Stephens was virtually unstoppable inside. He was 14-for-18 from the field, including four dunks, in electrifying 30-point performance. The San Diego State product had 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. Ruben Boykin supplied 10 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists for the Happinets (33-8), who played without center Chas McFarland, who got caught up in a tussle with Niigata power forward Rodney Webb in last Saturday’s series opener and received a broken nose in the exchange.
Carlos Dixon and Dillion Sneed scored 28 and 20 points, respectively for Gunma (10-29). Jermaine Green chipped in with 16 points, including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Albirex BB 77, Cinq Reves 65
In Hachioji, Tokyo Prefecture, veteran stars Thomas Kennedy and Nile Murry scored 19 points apiece and sparked Niigata to a series-opening win.
Kimitake Sato added 10 points and Shuhei Komatsu poured in nine. Meanwhile, the Albirex (25-16) played their first game since Webb was given a 12-game, season-ending suspension plus the playoffs on Tuesday for kicking McFarland in the head in retaliation for being elbowed repeatedly in the first quarter.
Niigata led 13-9 after one quarter and 33-24 at halftime.
Murry drained 9 of 11 free throws, and his team finished 15-for-18 at the line to seal the win.
Edward Morris led Tokyo (10-29) with 26 points, Ricky Woods scored 14 and collected 11 rebounds and Takuro Ito had nine points and five steals.
Five Arrows 74, Susanoo Magic 66
In Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Dexter Lyons and Andrais Thornton both had 15-point games and three teammates also reached double figures in scoring as Takamatsu defeated the hosts.
Paul Williams ended the game with 14 points and 16 rebounds for the Five Arrows (16-23).
T.J Cummings led Shimane (7-32) with 16 points and Adrian Thomas had 13. Edward Yamamoto added 11 points and six assists before fouling out.
89ers 91, Broncos 74
In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Travele Jones had 19 points and 17 rebounds and Dzaflo Larkai scored 18 points as Sendai hammered the hapless hosts, sending them to their eighth straight loss.
DeAngelo Hamilton poured in 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Fumiya Sato pumped in 12 points and Wendell White had 10 for the 89ers (19-20).
John Humphrey led Saitama (4-35) with 23 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Michael Joiner scored 14 points and Junya Masumoto had 11.
The Broncos shot 5-for-32 from 3-point range.
Rizing talk: Looking back on his team’s overtime loss to the visiting Ryukyu Golden Kings on Friday, Rizing Fukuoka coach James Duncan dished out the following insight to The Japan Times: “It’s hard to win basketball games when you have 26 turnovers. At the end of the game, it made a difference.
“It’s unfortunate but this is part of the process of getting better, having these painful loses. Now the challenge is to accept the tough lose and try to get better. This is good for us, another reality check moment for the team. We will get back to work next week and we will fix some of the problems because that’s what good teams do.”
The Rizing, sitting in fifth place in the 10-team West, are 21-21, with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
“Our goal stays the same. To make the playoffs and to see what happens after that,” Duncan concluded.
Ref talk: “Controlling the game is tough, but calling soft calls on one and nothing on the other side leads to that type of (dirty) play,” one longtime bj-league player told this newspaper on Saturday. “Many players who don’t even play very aggressive tend to because of the frustrations the refs cause.”