The Ryukyu Golden Kings look like a title contender. Their latest victory, a thorough 105-71 shellacking of the Toyama Grouses, was a bold reminder of the team’s across-the-board strengths.
Shooting guard Naoto Kosuge led Ryukyu (26-15, tied for first in the bj-league’s Western Conference) wit 24 points, David Palmer had a 19-point effort and Shigeyuki Kinjo put 16 points on the board. Anthony McHenry had a triple-double (11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, as well as three steals) and Tsubasa Yonamine also dished out 10 assists and scored eight points. Jeff Newton and Dillion Sneed each scored 10, with Newton grabbing eight boards and handing out four assists for good measure. Ryukyu coach Dai Oketani’s club has won five of its last six games. In the series opener, the Golden Kings flushed 11 of 19 3-point shots. They had 30 assists to Toyama’s 14.
For Toyama (12-15), John Davis scored 29 points with nine rebounds and Takeshi Mito added 17 points in the series opener in Okinawa City, Okinawa Prefecture.
The Grouses were 27-for-76 from the field, including 13-for-36 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Happinets 70, Phoenix 69
In Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture, Will Graves sank the first of two free throws with 10 seconds left to lift Akita.
After losses in their six previous attempts, the Northern Happinets (13-28) collected their first victory against the Phoenix.
Graves, a former University of North Carolina standout, finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists, Kazuhiro Shoji and Antonio Burks each scored 17 points and Dokun Akingbade chipped in with a double-double (10 points, 15 boards).
Ryosuke Mizumachi contributed six assists. Happinets rookie Makoto Sawaguchi, the pride of Morioka Minami High School, added five points, including a “huge reverse layup” in crunch time, coach Bob Pierce.
Akita outscored Hamamatsu 20-9 in the fourth quarter.
Ray Nixon paced the Phoenix (34-5) with 24 points, Jeffrey Parmer had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Shingo Okada (eight points, seven assists) and Dzaflo Larkai (eight points, 11 boards) also had solid outings.
The Phoenix had a tough game from the perimeter, missing 27 of 37 3-point shots.
Evessa 78, HeatDevils 69
In Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture, Oita’s Kimitake Sato scored a season-high 34 points on 14-for-25 shooting, but his team fell to 0-3 since coach L.J. Hepp was fired last week after the departure of three American players.
Veteran point guard Matt Lottich added 16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals against his former club. The HeatDevils, now led by Tony Hanson, fell to 16-25.
Osaka, meanwhile, improved to 26-15, as Lynn Washington scored 20 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and set up his teams with pinpoint passes (seven assists).
Hirohisa Takada had 15 points, Wayne Marshall scored 14, Shota Konno poured in eight and three teammate had seven apiece.
Hannaryz 89, Lakestars 86
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf had 24 points, Kibwe Trim scored 15 points and Yusuke Inoue had 12 as Kyoto beat its Kansai-area rival.
Reggie Warren and Michael Fey each had 11 points for the Hannaryz (23-18), while Taizo Kawabe chipped in with eight points.
Shiga’s Josh Peppers had a team-high 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting and Masashi Joho finished with 20. Mikey Marshall had 14 points in the loss and Gary Hamilton added 10 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Susanoo Magic 69, Five Arrows 60
In Takamatsu, Reggie Golson scored 21 points and raked in 11 rebounds and Jeral Davis’ shot-blocking prowess was on full display in a win over the hosts.
Davis finished with eight blocks — five more than the entire Takamatsu squad — to go along with 20 rebounds and 10 points. All-Star point guard Takumi Ishizaki added 16 points and Shimane improved to 19-22.
For the Five Arrows (9-30), Makoto Kita was the high scorer with 16 points and Jeffrey Price had 11.
Rizing 94, Shining Suns 80
In Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, Michael Parker’s 34-point, 12-rebound performance carried the Rizing to a triumph over Miyazaki.
Parker made 12 of 14 shots from 2-point range. Nile Murry scored 17 points and Brazilian big man Thiago Cordeiro added 15 points and 11 boards. Jun Nakanishi and Akitomo Takeno each had five assists.
The Shining Suns were manhandled on the boards; Fukuoka had a 54-29 rebounding advantage.
For Miyazaki (12-29), Brandon Cole scored 26 and Taishiro Shimizu had 20.