There have been a number of changes in the bj-league since six teams suited up for the inaugural season in 2005-06. But some things are constant, such as this undisputable fact: Tokyo Apache guard John “Helicopter” Humphrey is capable of scoring 30-plus points in every game.
Exhibit A: With a 34-point effort, he led the Apache to a crowd-pleasing 98-88 win over the Sendai 89ers on Sunday at Ariake Colosseum.
Exhibit B: He sparked Tokyo to an 89-84 victory on Saturday, scoring 21 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter.
“John Humphrey had a helluva weekend,” Apache coach Joe Bryant said, reflecting on the two-time scoring champion’s performance which included 21-for-27 from 2-point range, 9-for-17 on 3-pointers and 13-for-15 at the foul line.
Humphrey, however, wasn’t a one-man show on Sunday.
Or as Bryant put it, “He had some help from his friends today.”
Super sixth man Cohey Aoki came off the bench to score 18 points in 20 minutes. Fellow substitute reserve Julius Ashby added 13 points, six rebounds and a blocked shot, while Nick Davis (12 points, eight boards) and Masashi Joho (11 points, three assists, two steals) also made a major impact on the game’s outcome.
The Apache (3-3) had a 53-48 lead at intermission. The 89ers outscored the hosts 22-21 in the third and trailed 74-70 as the final period began.
In the fourth, Bobby St. Preux put the visitors in front, 77-76, on a 3-pointer. Tokyo regained the lead on an Aoki 3 at the 5:33 mark. Seconds later, Humphrey drove to the hoop and put up a layup to give the Apache a three-point edge. At that point, the Apache were just getting warmed up. Ashby added two points on a nifty spin move in the paint, Humphrey scored two more field goals and Ashby added a monster jam to raise the lead to 90-83. Then Joho drained a 3-ball from the left baseline to cap a 16-6 run.
Tokyo sealed the win with five free throws in the final minute.
St. Preux had a team-best 26 points for the 89ers (2-4), while Rashad Tucker poured in 21.
After losing two games by a combined 54 points last weekend to the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, Tokyo played with a sense of urgency and made a concerted effort to “not get beat on the hustle points,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey also said Bryant trusts him to be the go-to guy when the team needs an offensive spark.
“Coach is like a father to me,” Humphrey said. “We’ve been together for seven years and I know when my teammates and people are struggling . . . just keep it close and I have great big men and they were setting good screens, and I knew if the game got close I could take over the game . . . The ball was just falling for me.”
Also Sunday, the host Saitama Broncos outlasted the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix 93-89 in overtime.
Steve Horne forced OT by making a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:15 to play in the fourth quarter.
Horne finished with 24 points and 11 boards. Reggie Warren added 18 points and 14 boards as Saitama improved to 5-0. Yuki Kitamuki scored 15 and Taishiro Shimizu had 13 points and nine assists.
For the Phoenix (3-2), Andy Ellis had a game-high 30 points.
Elsewhere, the Ryukyu Golden Kings remain unbeaten, earning an 86-64 win over the visiting Oita HeatDevils.
Jeff Newton posted a 16-point, 16-rebound effort, while Anthony McHenry put 20 points on the board, Shigeyuki Kinjo contributed 17 and Naoto Takushi collected 10 rebounds and dished out six assists.
Jeffrey Price led Oita (1-5) with 24 points and 17 boards.
The Niigata Albirex BB, meanwhile, completed a weekend sweep, edging the host Toyama Grouses 95-92. Yuichi Ikeda and Dokun Akingbade scored 26 points apiece as Niigata improved to 3-3.
Akitomo Takeno added 18 points for the Albirex.
For Toyama (1-5), Rodney Webb was the leading scorer with 17 points.
Led by perimeter marksman Yu Okada’s 32 points, the host Takamatsu Five Arrows earned an 88-84 win over the Osaka Evessa.
Gordon James (23 points, 15 boards) and Rasheed Sparks (10 points) also had significant roles for the Five Arrows (5-1).
Despite a 26-point, 12-rebound effort from Lynn Washington and 23 points from Kazuya Hatano, the Evessa fell to 3-3.
In Kyushu, the visiting Shiga Lakestars recorded their first back-to-back triumphs in franchise history, wrapping up the weekend with a 70-64 win over the Rizing Fukuoka.
Bobby Nash (23 points), Yusuka Machida (15 points) and Ryan Rourke (17 boards) played key roles for Shiga (2-4).
Michael Parker’s 19-point, 19-rebound performance wasn’t enough for Fukuoka (1-5).
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