Basketball / B. League

Flawless Golden Kings lift Terrific 12 trophy after downing Guangzhou

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Ryukyu Golden Kings have piled up tournament victories at an impressive rate in the preseason. First, they captured the B. League Early Cup Kansai title on Sept. 9.

On Sunday evening, the Golden Kings completed a perfect four-game run at The Terrific 12, a tournament organized by the Asia League, in Macau. Coach Norio Sassa’s club defeated the Guangzhou Long Lions 85-76 in the final.

Post player Josh Scott had 21 points and hauled in 16 rebounds for Ryukyu, which led 21-13 after the opening quarter and 41-36 entering the second half. Longtime Kings sharpshooter Ryuichi Kishimoto made a profound impact on the perimeter, knocking down six 3-pointers en route to a 21-point performance that helped him secure tourney MVP honors.

Ryukyu received balanced contributions on both ends of the floor and showcased its veteran depth throughout the contest.

The Golden Kings held a 60-58 advantage entering the final stanza against their Chinese foe. Guangzhou’s Marreese Spreights, a former NBA big man, then tied it up at 60-60 on a layup.

Ryukyu stayed composed and embarked on a decisive 10-0 run to seize momentum. It began with two Scott free throws, then an Ira Brown dunk. Floor leader Narito Namizato then scored a bucket, and Brown dunked again.

Kishimoto followed with a 3 that made it 70-60 at the 6:53 mark. He knocked down three 3s in the final period.

After the game, Kishimoto spoke about what was going through his mind as he delivered a potent offensive effort.

“I was just playing with a feeling. I was not thinking,” Kishimoto said in an on-court interview after the team received the championship trophy.

“It was not for myself,” he added, providing a reminder of Ryukyu’s team-first mentality. “We want to celebrate as a team.”

Brown finished with 11 points, four assists, four rebounds and two steals and Jeff Ayres chipped in with 11 points and five boards. Namizato was effective with an eight-point, five-rebound, five-assist outing and fellow veteran Takatoshi Furukawa had eight points and seven rebounds.

Scott and Ayres were key offseason acquisitions for the Kings. Namizato, a fan favorite and Okinawa native, returned to the club this summer after stints with the Evessa and Shiga Lakestars. Throughout the tourney, game footage showed Namizato leading the offense with purpose and confidence.

Former University of Arizona guard Kyle Fogg poured in a game-best 40 points for Guangzhou.

Now, with the positive vibe of a memorable preseason, Ryukyu prepares to open its regular season on Oct. 6 against the host Akita Northern Happinets.

In Sunday’s third-place game, the Seoul Samsung Thunders topped the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins 105-92.

Glenn Cosey paced the South Korean winners with 34 points.

For Nagoya, Markeith Cummings scored 29 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Shuto Ando had 18 points. Toshihiro Nakatsuka added 12 points and Taito Nakahigashi contributed 10 points and made three steals.

The Diamond Dolphins trailed 64-53 at halftime.