YOKOHAMA – The Yokohama B-Corsairs issued a challenge to themselves before Sunday’s series finale against the Eastern Conference rival Saitama Broncos.
The B-Corsairs repeated that challenge at halftime, when they faced a seven-point deficit at Yokohama International Swimming Pool.
The hosts regrouped in the third quarter, taking head coach Taketo Aoki’s message to heart — it’s time “to step up,” he revealed to reporters after the game — and seized momentum en route to an 83-74 victory.
Yokohama (17-21), which is currently in eighth place in the 12-team Eastern Conference, ended a six-game slide and picked up an important victory as the race for a playoff spot looms large in its final 14 games. The Gunma Crane Thunders have the same won-loss record. (The B-Corsairs, a fifth-year franchise, missed the playoffs for the first time last spring.)
Aoki’s charges outscored Saitama 22-11 in the pivotal third quarter.
The Broncos fell to 4-32. They ended a 14-game losing streak on Saturday, winning 76-70.
Yokohama big man Carl Hall scored 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting and was relentless around the basket, which led to a game-high 19 rebounds (10 offensive). Captain Kenji Yamada added 16 points and seven assists in a game several B-Corsairs players called a “must-win game” afterward. Jordan Henriquez-Roberts had 13 points, nine rebounds and two big blocks, including an authoritative swat of a Yuya Shoji shot to close the third quarter. Satoshi Hisayama scored 11 points and Yosuke Maeda chipped in with eight.
Hall compared the two-game series with what a professional boxer goes through in the ring.
“We got knocked out yesterday,” he said in a post-game interview, “so we had to get back up and try to move forward, man. Once you’re down, it’s easy to keep losing. Once you’ve been hit, it’s hard to get back up.”
To get the win, Hall, a Wichita State alum, acknowledged he needed to make a bigger impact than he did on Saturday (20 points on 7-for-17 shooting, seven rebounds).
“It was kind of a sense of urgency,” he said, referring to the Sunday rematch. “Last night, I really couldn’t sleep because it’s a must-win for us. Every game down this stretch (is huge) because it’s (nearly) a three- or four-team tie. . . . We didn’t make the playoffs last year and that really bothered me, so we’ve got to do more as a team, we’ve got to do more as individuals. . . . We’ve just got to keep fighting, man, and you’ve got to find ways to win.”
The top eight teams in both conferences will advance to postseason play.
Asked if he set a target to grab 10 or more offensive boards, Hall summed it up this way: “I was just trying to bring energy, and I knew we needed second chances. That could’ve been our advantage, those second-chance points, because we’ve been struggling shooting the ball . . . so in order to help that out, we needed a few more shots.”
On a day when shooting guard Masayuki Kabaya and reserve guard Seiji Kono plus two teammates were sidelined for various physical ailments, Aoki noted that his bench, which included Henriquez-Roberts, played a key role in the win.
Backup guards Kento Hyodo and Kiichi Kikuyama contributed four points apiece and 10:46 and 15:36 of valuable court time, respectively, while being pressed into action in the series finale.
For Saitama, Seth Tarver had a team-best 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Mitsuhiro Kamezaki added 15 points, but was held to 1-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Evan Harris scored 13 points and snared 15 boards.
Through three quarters, Yamada had played all 30 minutes. He got a little bit of a breather in the fourth quarter and remained an energizing force for his club.
Hall shouldered the offensive load for Yokohama before a spirited, lively crowd of 3,422 in the third quarter, when he scored 10 points.
The Broncos were more aggressive in the first quarter, and that paid off. They took a 27-19 lead with just over a minute remaining in the quarter on a nifty left-handed driving layup by Harris.
Yokohama chipped away at the lead and pulled within 28-23 on Hall’s putback before the buzzer sounded to end the quarter.
Saitama stayed in front throughout the second stanza, with Tarver burying a straight-away 3-pointer for a 40-33 lead and Shoji’s 3 increasing the margin to 45-35 in the final minute before intermission.
Hall drained the first of two free throws to slash the lead to single digits, and then after Edward Morris missed a jumper at the other end, Yamada sank a buzzer-beating floater in the lane to close out the half on a high note for the B-Corsairs.
That set the stage for their second-half turnaround.
Hall helped ignite the comeback. His hook shot knotted the score at 51-51 near the midway point of the third quarter.
Yokohama outscored Saitama 11-5 to wrap up the third quarter and took a 60-56 lead into the final period.
Moments later, in a key sequence that illustrated Yamada’s calming influence on his short-handed team, the floor leader delivered a spot-on pass to Maeda, who flushed a 3-pointer.
Tarver brought Saitama within 75-70 on a pair of free throws with 3:28 left. But the Broncos could never get over the hump down the stretch, failing to regain the lead.
With 14 games left, Yamada echoed Hall’s comments that Yokohama’s upcoming away games are especially important for their playoff aspirations.
“He stepped up big for us,” Hall said of Yamada. “We need him to be aggressive and take shots. He played a major role today.”
The B-Corsairs travel to face the Gunma Crane Thunders and Aomori Wat’s over the next two weekends.
Susanoo Magic 97, HeatDevils 86
In Unnan, Shimane Prefecture, Scootie Randall scored a game-high 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Wayne Marshall made a big impact with 14 points, nine boards and four blocks as the hosts completed a weekend sweep of Oita Ehime.
Randall put his stamp on the game at the charity stripe, knocking down 11 of 14 free throws.
Josh Davis chipped in with 13 points and 18 rebounds for Shimane (28-10), Jun Abe scored 10 points and Naoto Takushi had nine points and six assists.
Patrick Simon paced the HeatDevils (9-27) with 33 points, including seven 3-pointers. Chehales Tapscott added 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Evessa 59, Five Arrows 50
In Takamatsu, Osaka gutted out a victory in a low-scoring series finale against the Five Arrows.
Lawrence “Trend” Blackledge and DeAngelo Hamilton had 16 points apiece for the Evessa (27-11).
Takamatsu (9-27) has lost three straight games.
Anthony Kent led the Five Arrows with 12 points, Jarvis Williams scored nine points and Nino Johnson had eight points, 19 rebounds and five steals.
The hosts were 11-for-22 at the foul line.
Golden Kings 77, Rizing 73
In Fukuoka, sharpshooter Ryuichi Kishimoto put 25 points on the board to spark Ryukyu in its second win in as many days over the Rizing.
Evan Ravenel added 15 points and 12 boards for the Golden Kings (26-10), Anthony McHenry had 10 points and 17 rebounds and Morihisa Yamauchi dished out five assists.
Joseph Taylor paced Fukuoka (14-24) with 22 points and Donnavan Kirk scored 19 points and pulled down 16 rebounds with five blocks in the series finale. Cohey Aoki added 11 points.
Albirex BB 85, 89ers 78
In Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture, Niigata collected its ninth straight victory by handing the 89ers their fourth consecutive loss.
The Albirex (26-12) didn’t help their cause at the free-throw line (22-for-41), but still held a big advantage in scoring when the clock was stopped. Sendai made 11 of 17.
Niigata’s Ryan Reid had 17 points and 13 rebounds. Faye Pape Mour and Wayne Arnold each contributed 16 points. Faye also provided 14 boards and five assists. Arnold made seven steals. Kimitake Sato added 12 points.
Wendell White finished with 29 points and 17 rebounds for the 89ers (25-13) and Jamal Boykin had 18 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.
Big Bulls 75, Wat’s 71
In Towada, Aomori Prefecture, a balanced offensive attack guided Iwate to a narrow win over the hosts.
As a result, the Big Bulls (21-15) extended their winning streak to eight games.
Patrick Sanders led Iwate with 19 points, followed by Alandise Harris’ 15 and Tatsunori Fujie’s 14. Abdullahi Kuso chipped in with seven points and 10 rebounds.
Alif Bland scored 19 points for Aomori (15-23), Jesse Perry added 18 and Yuki Yamaguchi and Yoshifumi Nakajima both had 10.
Grouses 94, Crane Thunders 83
In Toyama, Masashi Joho was a potent force on offense as the hosts salvaged a series split with Gunma.
Joho made 10 of 12 shots from inside the arc in a memorable 30-point outburst for the Grouses (24-12). Duke Crews (21 points) and Sam Willard (21 points, 13 rebounds) also delivered key performances.
For the Crane Thunders (17-21), Yosuke Taneichi scored 24 points, Thomas Kennedy added 22 and Gary Hamilton had a 14-point, 16-rebound, five-assist outing.
Lakestars 74, Samuraiz 68
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Julian Mavunga put 18 points on the board and the Lakestars collected their second win of the weekend.
Jeff Parmer had a big hand in the victory, contributing 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Yu Okada scored 15 points for Shiga (24-12).
Andrew Fitzgerald had a 22-point game for Kanazawa (20-18) and Marshall Brown scored 12. Gyno Pomare grabbed 16 rebounds.
Bambitious 60, Hannaryz 49
In Kyoto, Julius Ashby’s double-double (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Tatsuya Suzuki’s seven assists helped Nara end the weekend on a positive note.
Kyoto had triumphed 80-74 on Saturday.
A day later, Charles Hinkle scored 17 points against the hosts as the Bambitious (15-23) picked up one of their most impressive victories to date.
Moses Ehambe paced the Hannaryz (28-8) with 18 points and Tyren Johnson scored 13.