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Do-it-all forward Charlo having special season for title-chasing Phoenix

by

Staff Writer

Mo Charlo’s name isn’t a long-winded, multisyllabic tongue-twister. It’s easy to say — and easy to remember.

And for those who follow the bj-league, it’s been easy to remember what Charlo has done game after game this season. Simply put, he’s dominated.

The University of Nevada product leads the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix in scoring (18.0 per game), rebounding (8.8), assists (3.8) and steals (1.8), as well as blocks (30 total), free throws made (167), minutes (1,163), and free-throw shooting percentage (83.1) in his 36 games to date

For seven February games plus Sunday’s series finale against Osaka, Charlo averaged 19.3 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 51.5 percent from inside the arc. Hamamatsu, in a three-way tied for the best record in the Western Conference along with Kyoto and Ryukyu, went 7-1 in that stretch.

Setting the tone tor the team’s success, Charlo was named the league’s February MVP, it was announced on Wednesday.

In a team-issued statement, Charlo said he’s “really excited about the award. I really appreciate that my team and coaches believe in me to be a leader.

“We have a great group of guys and to me this award shows how great of a team we are. The award is a team award.

“Thanks to my whole team, staff and the fans.”

The well-traveled pro won state titles as a baseball, basketball and football varsity athlete at Eureka (California) High School.

While playing for the Reno Bighorns last season, Charlo earned NBA Development League All-Defensive First Team honors. Those skills have contributed greatly to the Phoenix’s rise this season.

Weekly accolade: Niigata forward Thomas Kennedy had 15- and 24-point scoring efforts in a weekend sweep over East rival Toyama. In the series finale, he sank 8 of 9 free throws.

Kennedy was named the Lawson/Ponta Weekly MVP on Wednesday.

The University of Detroit Mercy alum leads the Albirex in scoring (17.5).

Who’s hot?: Nara point guard Tatsuya Suzuki, the league leader in assists (7.0), has dished out 14, 12, six, 12 and 11 helpers in the past five games.

Back in the groove: Center Jeral Davis’ shot-blocking prowess is a big reason Sendai (24-14) has a chance to make a deep postseason run.

Players who can protect the rim can change the course of a game.

Davis, who was not on the 89ers’ roster when the season began in October, has ascended to his familiar place at the top of the league’s blocked shots list. He is currently No. 1 (3.2 per game).

In his past three games, Davis has swatted 18 shots.

The 216-cm Davis made his season debut on Dec. 6 after recovering from a hip injury that cut short his 2013-14 season. He’s now played in 20 games.

“Coming back from the injury I had, it took a while for me to get my timing back, and right now I’m just now getting it back,” the 30-year-old Davis told The Japan Times

In a Wednesday interview, the former Shimane star said experience has been the biggest factor for him in finding ways to be a dominant shot blocker.

“I think over the years of playing basketball I’ve learned to time shots a lot better and being patient on defense,” Davis said.

“Also our team defense, they are learning how to play with me and knowing they have help behind them,” he added, analyzing Sendai’s defense.

Davis singled out two standout big men he keeps an eye on as he studies the game.

As far as an NBA player I watch, I like (Portland’s) LaMarcus Aldridge’s game,” he said. “(New Orleans’) Anthony Davis is great at blocking shots, too. He has a natural instinct for blocking shots and he’s long so that helps.”

Upcoming games: The Fukuoka-Shiga series was scheduled to begin Thursday night. The rest of the week’s matchups for Saturday and Sunday are: Akita vs. Yokohama, Sendai vs. Fukushima, Niigata vs. Gunma, Toyama vs. Aomori, Saitama vs. Shinshu, Tokyo vs. Iwate, Kyoto vs. Hamamatsu, Nara vs. Oita, Shimane vs. Takamatsu and Ryukyu vs. Osaka.

Big loss: Fukushima power forward Terrance Shannon suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee in the fourth quarter on Feb. 21 against Aomori.

In 34 games, Shannon averaged 14.5 points and 11.6 rebounds, the second-highest total in the 22-team circuit.

Before the injury, Shannon, who attended Virginia Commonwealth University, was having a typical game two weeks ago, with 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a pair of blocks.

Feedback: Send an email to: edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp