While playing in their 47th regular-season game on Friday night in Moriguchi, Osaka Prefecture, two bj-league teams shared several other similarities. Until the final second of the 40-minute game.
In a game tied after both the first and second quarter, the Takamatsu Five Arrows held one key statistic when it was over — they converted two more free throws — and pulled out a 76-74 victory over the Osaka Evessa. Dexter Lyons drained a late game-winning shot for the Five Arrows.
“Only nine points, but the game winner felt great,” Lyons told The Japan Times.
Both teams are vying for the Western Conference’s coveted sixth and final playoff spot.
Osaka (21-26) is in sixth place and Takamatsu (19-28) is in eighth, while the idle Oita HeatDevils (20-28) are sandwiched between them.
Takamatsu improved to 3-0 against Evessa coach Shunsuke Todo’s club this season.
Andrais Thornton paced the Five Arrows with a game-high 26 points on 10-for-13 shooting, including 8-for-8 from 2-point range. Paul Williams added 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists with a steal and a block for good measure. Teammate Tsubasa Yonezawa poured in 10 points and Lyons had nine points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists for Takamatsu.
The Five Arrows trailed 57-54 entering the final quarter.
Serbian forward/center Darko Cohadarevic paced Osaka with 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Guard Takanori Goya contributed 15 points and four assists. Zach Andrews finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds and Kevin Galloway had 11 points and eight assists, while Shunki Hatakeyama chipped in with eight points off the bench.
Both teams drained five 3s and 24 2-points shots. Osaka held a 42-41 edge in rebounds. Takamatsu had 13 assists to Osaka’s 12, while the Five Arrows collected seven steals to the Evessa’s four. What’s more, Takamatsu made 13 of 22 free-throw attempts; Osaka sank 11 of 15.
“Yeah, great win,” Lyons posted on Facebook after the game. “TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday!”
Lyons later dished out this insight in an interview with The Japan Times: “Andrais Thornton played well for us with 26 points and carried us into the fourth. It was team defense in the fourth quarter. I had foul trouble (while) being our team’s biggest cheerleader from the sideline.
“Then with 2 minutes left, down by three, I check into the game and hit a huge 2-point shot to bring (us) within one. Then with great defense we have the ball and it’s 71-71. (Coach) Kenzo (Maeda) draws up a play for me, and I hit the game winner…”
The series resumes on Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is 2 p.m.