The Ryukyu Golden Kings captured the Western Conference’s regular-season title and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs on Saturday, clobbering the host Miyazaki Shining Suns 113-82.
Ryukyu (33-16) holds a two-game lead over the second-place Osaka Evessa entering the final day of the regular season.
David Palmer, the former MVP during the Evessa’s dynasty years, led the Golden Kings with 26 points, including a jaw-dropping 7-for-9 from beyond the 3-point arc, and Anthony McHenry added 20. Carlos Dixon had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Steady big man Jeff Newton hauled in 16 rebounds on a night when his seven points were more than enough. Tsubasa Yonamine had a busy day at the point, with 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists as evidence, Dillion Sneed scored 10, Yasufumi Takushi had nine and Shigeyuki Kinjo ended his work shift with a seven-point evening.
Ryukyu blew the game wide open in the second half, outscoring Miyazaki 56-33.
Brandon Cole paced the Shining Suns (13-36) with 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Taishiro Shimizu had 19 points and Takuro Ito added 15 for the expansion squad.
Rizing 87, Evessa 84
In Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture, backcourt mates Nile Murry and Akitomo Takeno combined for 16 assists, and Fukuoka edged the hosts as the battle for second place in the West will go down to the season’s final game.
The Rizing improved to 30-19, while the loss dropped Osaka to 31-18. The No. 2 seed, along with Ryukyu, will receive a bye into the West’s playoff semifinals on May 7-8, while the third-place club will host a first-round series next week against the No. 6 Shimane Susanoo Magic.
Michael Parker led Fukuoka with 32 points on 12-for-16 shooting, as well as eight rebounds and seven steals for good measure.
Murry had 14 points and seven rebounds along with the aforementioned sharp passing (seven assists) and tough defense (two steals). Abdullahi Kuso, a strong presence in the paint, had a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds), while Jun Nakanishi also scored 13 points. Takeno had nine points and nine helpers in the pulse-rising contest.
Billy Knight, who had 23 points by halftime, finished with 30 for the Evessa. Knight also raked in a dozen boards and made four steals. Lynn Washington scored 20 points with 11 rebounds, Wayne Marshall added 13 points and Hirohisa Takada scored nine.
Osaka had 17 turnovers in the loss, including five by former NBA point guard Kenny Satterfield, who only attempted four shots (1-for-4) and had three points and six assists. Taiwanese center Tseng Wen-ting had eight blocks in his 13th game in an Evessa uniform, as well as five points and five rebounds.
Albirex BB 78, Phoenix 75
In Toyano, Niigata Prefecture, the Albirex, playing their first home game since February, edged the defending champions.
Hamamatsu Higashimikawa slipped to 39-6, including a pair of defeats to coach Masaya Hirose’s scrappy club.
Shohei Komatsu paced Niigata (20-19) with 20 points and nailed five 3-pointers. Center George Leach had a 14-point, 16-rebound effort, while Yuichi Ikeda scored 12. Julius Ashby and Hirotaka Kondo each scored eight points. All-Star point guard Naoto Takushi finished with seven points and four assists.
The Albirex controlled the boards, outrebounding the Phoenix 50-34. Leach had nine offensive boards on the night; the entire Hamamatsu team had 11.
Wayne Arnold had a team-high 32 points for the Phoenix and Ray Nixon scored 12. The visitors, an excellent perimeter-shooting team, were 6-for-22 on 3s.
Grouses 80, Happinets 78
In Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture, Haakim Johnson scored 25 points and Jerrell Smith added 19 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks as the hosts won the series opener.
Takeshi Mito poured in 17 points and John Davis contributed 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Grouses (13-30).
For Akita, Sek Henry had a team-best 31 points with seven rebounds. Dokun Akingbade scored 12 points and grabbed 11 boards, Yuuki Kitamuki had 10 points and Antonio Burks chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds. Leading scorer Will Graves (22.2 points per game) did not play.
The Northern Happinets fell to 17-32.
Hannaryz 106, Susanoo Magic 88
In Kyoto, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half and Gordon Klaiber was 5-for-5 on 3-pointers en route to 22 points as the Hannaryz rolled past Shimane.
Power forward Reggie Warren added 17 points and 12 rebounds, Michael Fey Scored 16, Naoto Nakamura had 12 and Kibwe Trim poured in 11 for Kyoto (27-20). Guard Kyosuke Setoyama kept the high-octane offense in form by dishing out nine assists.
The Hannaryz made 8 of 12 3s, 36 of 60 2-point shots and 10 of 12 from the charity stripe. In other words, Kyoto shot the lights out in front of its home crowd.
For the Susanoo Magic (24-25), Reggie Golson and Will Caudle each scored 19 points. Takumi Ishizaki had a 15-point, six-assist outing and Shoji Nakanishi supplied 11 points. Edward Yamamoto handed out six assist and Jeral Davis swatted five shots.
Lakestars 93, Five Arrows 83
In Takamatsu, Mikey Marshall dropped 24 points on the hosts, Lamar Rice followed suit with 18 and Masashi Joho put 17 on the board as strength in numbers sparked Shiga to a win.
Macho forward Gary Hamilton secured the victory for the Lakestars (29-20) with 10 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and a block.
For Takamatsu (10-37), Jeffrey Price led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds and Masaaki Suzuki scored 18.