Two games were decided by a total of four points in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, over the weekend. Talk about tight competition.
In the end, the visiting Ryukyu Golden Kings and Shimane Susanoo Magic each won a game, with the series finale decided this way: Ryukyu 70, Shimane 69.
The expansion Susanoo Magic (18-22), led by former Japan national team coach Zeljko Pavlicevic, rallied back from a 23-7 deficit after the first quarter, holding Ryukyu to 49 points in the final three periods.
The Golden Kings (25-15), who dropped the series opener in overtime on Saturday as the league resumed competition with eight Western Conference teams after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, led 62-52 with 7:33 to play in the game, but Shimane whittled away at the lead, though it was unable to pull ahead in the end.
Frontcourt standout Jeff Newton had a team-high 13 points and 12 rebounds for Ryukyu. Naoto Kosuge and Dillion Sneed scored 12 points apiece and David Palmer added nine points. Sneed also grabbed 10 boards.
For Shimane, All-Star guard and fan favorite Takumi Ishizaki scored a game-best 20 points along with six assists and two steals. Will Caudle had 12 points, Reggie Golson chipped in with nine points, 11 boards and five steals, while Jeral Davis had nine points and four blocked shots.
Rizing 96, HeatDevils 85
In Beppu, Oita Prefecture, Michael Parker scored 25 points and Akitomo Takeno and Nile Murry each poured in 14 to lead run-and-gun Fukuoka to a series sweep over the hosts.
Abdullahi Kuso raked in 15 rebounds and Jun Nakanishi, coming off a 12-assist effort, had 12 points and six assists for the Rizing (23-17). Center Ivo Hoger contributed 10 points in the Rizing’s triumph.
Murry also had six rebounds and five assists. Takeno buried 4 of 7 3-point shots.
For Oita (16-24), which used only seven players, Matt Lottich had 22 points, eight rebounds and nine assists and Damian Johnson supplied 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Kimitake Sato had a 17-point effort, Manabu Umemiya scored 11 and Hiroki Sato chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds.
Hannaryz 86, Shining Suns 73
In Kyoto, ex-NBA standout Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s 24-point performance guided the hosts to a win and a sweep over Miyazaki.
Wendell White scored 16 points, Reggie Warren had 14 points, 13 boards and three steals, while Naoto Nakamura finished with 10 points and eight rebounds as Kyoto improved to 22-18. Kibwe Trim grabbed nine rebounds and Kyosuke Setoyama dished out five assists in a well-rounded victory for coach Kazuto Aono’s club.
Brandon Cole paced the undermanned Shining Suns (12-28) with 17 points and 13 rebounds, Shinnosuke Oishi had 14 points, Yuta Kojima scored nine and three others had nine points apiece.
Lakestars 102, Evessa 86
In Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, game officials appeared to lose control of this contest early and it spiraled out of control.
Four Evessa players — Lawrence Blackledge, Billy Knight, Tseng Wen-ting and Wayne Marshall — fouled out and team leader Lynn Washington was hit with two technical fouls to receive an automatic game disqualification.
Osaka was whistled for 31 fouls to Shiga’s 18.
Do-it-all forward Gary Hamilton had 17 points, 20 rebounds and five assists for the Lakestars (23-17), who earned a series split. Josh Peppers led Shiga with 21 points, Masashi Joho and Mikey Marshall both scored 19, Lamar Rice and Ryuichi Horikawa each had eight and Yu Okada scored seven. Point guard Takamichi Fujiwara, who had zero points, contributed seven assists in the victory.
For the Evessa (25-15), Washington was No. 1 in points with 18, Hirohisa Takada had 13 and Blackledge added 12 points, four steals and three blocks in a game some observers immediately described as “an old-fashioned slugfest.” Knight and guard Kevin Tyner each scored 10, the latter also had eight assists.