The Osaka Evessa didn’t shy away from feeding the ball to Takuya Soma on the perimeter on Saturday.
The 24-year-old swingman sank 9 of 16 3-pointers and scored a game-high 29 points, leading the Evessa to an 85-64 victory over the Niigata Albirex BB.
Lawrence “Trend” Blackledge and Narito Namizato both dished out six assists to lead Osaka (16-9) in that category. The Evessa finished with 26 assists and 11 turnovers in the series opener in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture.
Osaka led 35-31 at halftime, and pulled away over the final two quarters.
For the Evessa, Olu Ashaolu had 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting and nine rebounds and newcomer Michael Singletary added 13 points. Naoki Hashimoto had 10 points and Namizato poured in seven.
Osaka nailed 18 of 37 3-point shots and 15 of 30 attempts from inside the arc.
The Evessa have won six of their last seven games.
Ryan Reid paced Niigata (16-9) with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Ryotaro Honma added 14 points, including four 3s. Faye Pape Mour contributed 11 points, eight boards and five assists.
Wat’s 78, Brave Warriors 74
In Nagano, Aomori’s Jesse Perry had success shooting the ball from 2-point range (9-for-12) en route to a game-best 30 points in a narrow win over the hosts.
Perry went 3-for-10 from 3-point range and grabbed seven rebounds for the Wat’s (11-14). Teammate Makoto Sawaguchi had 17 points and five assists and Nile Murry contributed 16 points.
Yuta Kojima led Aomori with four steals.
Shinshu’s Xavier Gibson scored 29 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Yasuhiko Wada finished with 13 points and Joe Wolfinger added 12. Mike Bell collected 11 rebounds for the Brave Warriors (8-17).
Samuraiz 86, Golden Kings 84
In Okinawa City, Andrew Fitzgerald had 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting and Kanazawa won its first game of 2016.
The Samuraiz (13-14) snapped a four-game slide. Tsubasa Yonamine poured in 15 points and Masato Tsukino scored 14 and made three steals for the first-year franchise. Gyno Pomare added 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Marshall Brown finished with 12 points, nine boards, six assists and three blocks.
Post player Evan Ravenel led Ryukyu (18-7) with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Shuhei Kitagawa and Anthony McHenry scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, while Shigeyuki Kinjo had 11.