Gardner leads West past East in NBL All-Star Game

by

Staff Writer

Let’s be honest — the game was dull for much of the time as the players abandoned defense and just tried to shoot 3-pointers or dunk the ball.

But in the end they found their competitive spirit, and gave the audience some extra time to enjoy.

Nishinomiya Storks big man Davante Gardner scored 50 points and cleaned the boards 12 times and Kosuke Takeuchi followed with 22 points in Team West’s 152-145 double-overtime win over Team East in the NBL All-Star Game at Todoroki Arena on Sunday night.

With 15.1 seconds left in regulation, Gardner tied the game, making one of two free throws, to send the game into overtime.

In the first overtime period, the East established a 139-136 lead with less than 10 seconds left, but reigning NBL MVP Josh Heytvelt, of the Hitachi Sunrockers, hit a tough shot from the 3-point line with 0.7 second remaining, and the game went into second overtime.

Gardner came through, scoring six points in the second overtime period to put an end to a long contest watched by 3,411 fans.

“I think I played a lot of minutes more than I get to play during the regular season, so I’m very, very tired right now,” said Marquette University product Gardner, who was named the game’s MVP.

For the East, Heytvelt racked up 40 points and 13 rebounds while Joji Takeuchi and Takatoshi Furukawa had 20 points apiece. Diminutive former NBDL guard Yuki Togashi provided 13 assists.

“I never imagined that we would play two overtimes,” said Team West head coach Takuya Kita (Toshiba Brave Thunders). “The players were playing a little hesitantly early in the game, but they wound up playing a heated, great game later.”

It was the final NBL All-Star Game as the league will merge with the bj-league, forming the B. League next fall.

“I told our players before the game that we should avoid injuries and enjoy it,” East head coach Takuma Ito (Toyota Alvark) said. “But we played two overtimes, and despite the loss it felt great that we played an exciting game.”

Before the All-Star Game, there was a 3-point and a slam dunk contest.

In the 3-point contest, Aisin SeaHorses’ Kosuke Kanamaru scored 19 points to capture the title for the second year in a row.

In the dunk contest, Hitachi’s Ira Brown had a full 50 points to win.