Nakama sinks clutch shot in Apache win


Jumpei Nakama buried a 3-pointer with 6 seconds remaining to lift the Tokyo Apache to an 84-81 win over the Toyama Grouses on Thursday night in the bj-league.

In essence, Nakama made up for his 2-for-5 performance at the free-throw line by knocking down the game’s biggest shot after a nice pass from Michael Chappell.

All-Star center Julius Ashby added 20 points and 12 rebounds and the playoff-bound Apache (22-29) won for the seventh time in their past 11 games.

Chappell buried a long jumper from the right wing to tie it at 81-81 with 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2.

Moments later, after Nakama’s clutch basket, the Grouses had a final shot to win the game. They called a timeout to set up a final play, but Brian Harper’s 3-pointer was off the mark just before the buzzer sounded.

Harper led Toyama (16-35) with 21 points and Takeshi Mito scored 15.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Grouses rallied from five down to knot the score at 77-77 with 2:30 left on a Bilal Abdullah jam. But the visitors failed to put together a quality run with the game on the line.

The Apache play their final regular-season home game on Friday against the Grouses. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Twelve Apache players put points in the board. Cohey Aoki, who didn’t play in the first half on a night when Tokyo’s reserves got more playing time, and Jerrell Smith were Tokyo’s second-leading scorers with nine points each.

Tokyo closed out the third quarter on an 11-4 run to take a 68-62 lead into the final stanza.

The Apache moved the ball efficiently in the early going and shot the ball well. Seldom-used guard Minoru Kimura, who had played all of 11 minutes entering the contest, scored five of the team’s first nine points, including a 3-pointer that put Tokyo ahead 9-8. It was the start of a 13-0 run that gave the hosts a 19-8 lead.

The Apache led 43-42 at halftime.

Guard/forward Kenji Hilke, who had zero points this season entering the game, scored seven first-half points.