The bj-league’s ongoing problem of policing the game has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, what with the suspensions of Kyoto’s Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Shiga’s Takamichi Fujiwara and Osaka’s Lynn Washington just prior to the All-Star Game.

On Sunday, another incident raised concerns about the league’s ability to handle this never-ending challenge.

With 6:48 remaining in the second quarter of the Akita Northern Happinets-Ryukyu Golden Kings game in Odate, Akita Prefecture, Ryukyu’s Jeff Newton and Akita’s Makoto Hasegawa were called for double technicals as they got tangled up. Akita’s Paul Butorac, playing rough against Newton in the low post, was also charged with a technical foul as both benches cleared.

Newton remained in the game; Hasegawa had to depart due to pain sustained from, as seen on BJTV, three punches delivered from Newton, one of the league’s elite players since 2005. League rules state that a player’s punching foul results in an automatic one-game suspension, but a delayed ruling could be handed down this time.

The result: The Golden Kings defeated the Happinets 83-77, completing the weekend sweep and winning a physical duel on an afternoon when game officials failed to control the emotions of players, according to some observers.

“I asked ref (Atsuhiro) Ueda why Jeff isn’t suspended for the punching foul,” Akita coach Bob Pierce said. “I didn’t see it,” Ueda said, according to Pierce.

“Three refs, benches clear, a player’s hurt, and no one sees anything,” the coach added.

Carlos Dixon scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed eight boards for Ryukyu (17-11), Anthony McHenry had 18 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, Naoto Kosuge scored 13 and Newton finished with 10 points, 14 boards and two blocked shots in 40 minutes. Shigeyuki Kinjo poured in nine points and Tsubasa Yonamine had seven for the Golden Kings.

For Akita (9-19), Butorac was the top scorer with 16 points, followed by Dokun Akingbade with 15 points and 13 rebounds, Sek Henry with 12 points, Antonio Burks with 11 and Kazuhiro Shoji and Ryosuke Mizumachi with seven apiece.

The Happinets, as other teams have done since the bj-league’s inception in 2005, took a pro-active stance in what it views as a major mistake by the league.

“The team checks the DVD at halftime and you can see him (Newton) swing twice,” Pierce said. “We call the league office and are told nothing can be done during the game.

“The punch I thought he would be suspended for came after two visible (ones) on the DVD. He may be suspended next week. . . . But how did three guys miss everything today?”

He added: “There were warning signs. A few plays earlier (in the second quarter), Jeff complained to Ueda.”

Albirex BB 75, Shining Suns 69

In Miyazaki, Julius Ashby and Yuichi Ikeda each scored 18 points, Zach Andrews raked in 19 rebounds and Naoto Takushi dished out seven assists to lead Niigata to a victory and a series split.

The Albirex improved to 14-12.

Takuro Ito paced Miyazaki (8-20) with 17 points, while Taishiro Shimizu had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Elijah Palmer chipped in with 11 points and 18 boards and Jackie Manuel scored a dozen points.

Phoenix 67, Susanoo Magic 60

In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, led by Ray Nixon’s 19 points and Wayne Arnold’s 10, Hamamatsu Higashimikawa (26-2) won its ninth straight game. Jeffrey Parmer added 11 rebounds for the visitors.

Forrest Ray Fisher scored 14 points for Shimane (11-17), Takumi Ishizaki had 10 and Edward Yamamoto handed out six assists.

The Susanoo Magic were held to 15 or less points in three quarters.

89ers 77, Evessa 72

In Moriguchi, Osaka Prefecture, Mike Bell scored 24 points, Mac Hopson had 23 and center Chris Holm hauled in 22 rebounds to go along with 11 points as Sendai (16-10) bounced back from a series-opening setback.

Billy Knight had 21 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists for Osaka (18-10), now tied with Shiga for the best record in the West. Wayne Marshall poured in 20 points and Lawrence Blackledge had 16.

HeatDevils 64, Grouses 63

In Beppu, Oita Prefecture, Damian Johnson scored 17 points, Matt Lottich contributed 16 and Taj Finger had a 14-point, nine-rebound afternoon as the HeatDevils (13-17) salvaged a series split.

For Toyama (8-18), Brian Harper notched a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds), Haakim Johnson scored 12 and John Davis and Matthew Kyle each had 10.

Five Arrows 73, Hannaryz 72

In Takamatsu, Makoto Kato sank a free throw with 1 second remaining to lift the hosts to a triumph.

Terrance Farley had a team-high 19 points for the Five Arrows (7-21), while Masaaki Suzuki added a season-best 18 and Kato scored 10.

Kyoto (14-14) had tied it at 72-72 on Wendell White’s 3-pointer with 3 seconds left. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf led the visitors with 21 points and White scored 15.

Lakestars 97, Broncos 91

In Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, former JBL player Lamar Rice had a 25-point, eight-rebound performance and fan-favorite Masashi Joho rediscovered his shooting touch after a two-point outing on Saturday, finishing with 22 points and 8-for-11 from 2-point range to lead the hosts.

Ray Schaefer added 18 points, Mikey Marshall had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Gary Hamilton snatched 12 rebounds as Shiga improved to 18-10.

Ex-NBA guard and New York City playground legend Kenny Satterfield led the Broncos (11-17) with a season-high 33 points, Gordon Klaiber scored 18 and Daiki Terashita had 16.

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