89ers grab second straight OT triumph, stretch win streak to four


Staff Writer

The Sendai 89ers outlasted the visiting Toyama Grouses on Sunday, winning 89-80 in overtime and extending their winning streak to four games.

Forward O’Neal Mims had a game-high 32 points, including 11 in overtime, as Sendai improved to 7-3, the second-best record in the bj-league’s 10-team Eastern Conference.

The 89ers defeated the Grouses 88-84 in overtime on Saturday.

“Our guys showed a lot of heart and poise winning our second straight overtime game,” Sendai coach Bob Pierce told The Japan Times. “We nearly lost to a very talented, athletic Toyama team at several points in the game, but each time our guys made big plays.”

Such as?

“Probably none bigger than Take’s steal with 3:58 left in the fourth quarter and us trailing by six points (68-62),” Pierce said, speaking of captain Takehiko Shimura, who finished with six steals along with 14 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Pierce said there were “lots of heroes in this one, but O’Neal Mims was well deserving of being named the game MVP.”

What’s more, mental toughness and resilience have become chief traits of the new-look 89ers

The coach added: “Take played with four stitches in his chin today. He might be the shortest player in the bj-league (at 160 cm), but he has a huge heart.”

During Sendai’s current win streak, the team has gone 3-0 in OT games.

Dan Fitzgerald added 14 points, Hikaru Kusaka scored 13 and Johnny Dukes had eight points and 10 assists for the hosts.

Toyama (4-6) was 5-for-26 on 3-point shots in the loss. Haakim Johnson paced the Grouses with 21 points, Masashi Joho scored 17 points with seven assists and Ira Brown had 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Evessa 90, Lakestars 73

In Kobe, two-time MVP Lynn Washington had 24 points and 11 rebounds and Shota Konno and Cohey Aoki each had 16 points as Osaka completed a two-game sweep against Shiga.

The Evessa (9-1) had only seven turnovers; they handed out 20 assists, including Aoki’s game-high six.

Osaka forward Lawrence Blackledge filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal.

Yu Okada paced the Lakestars (6-4) with 28 points. He was 5-for-10 on 3s and added five rebounds and five assists. Teammate Ray Nixon scored 15 and Josh Peppers had 13.

Brave Warriors 85, Big Bulls 69

In Mizusawa, Iwate Prefecture, Derek Raivio scored 26 points, Edward Morris contributed 18 and Lee Roberts had 16 as Shinshu routed the hosts.

The expansion Brave Warriors improved to 6-4, while the Big Bulls, also a first-year franchise, fell to 1-9.

Tyler Hughes led Shinshu with 12 rebounds and Morris hauled in seven. Roberts made four of the team’s 12 steals. The Brave Warriors were 12-for-30 at the foul line, but coach Motofumi Aoki’s team still dominated other facets of the game.

Iwate missed 20 of 24 3s and shot 25-for-55 on 2-point shots.

Shawn Malloy had team-high totals in points (24) and rebounds (22) for the Big Bulls.

Albirex BB 82, Susanoo Magic 78

In Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, Nile Murry had 21 points, Yuichi Ikeda dropped in 18 and Niigata bounced back from a loss in the opener.

The Albirex made 12 of 16 3s, including Ikeda’s 4-for-6 and Kimitake Sato’s 3-for-3. Dwight Gordon dished out a team-high five assists and Chris Holm grabbed 15 rebounds as first-year coach Matt Garrison’s squad improved to 4-4 despite shooting 16-for-56 from inside the 3-point arc.

Michael Parker was Shimane’s top scorer with 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Jeral Davis had 14 points and six blocked shots and Tatsuhiro Yokoo scored 11 points. Edward Yamamoto added seven points, seven assists and three steals.

The Magic fell to 6-4.

Niigata outscored the hosts 28-17 in the third quarter.

Broncos 81, Phoenix 79 (OT)

In Kosai, Shizuoka Prefecture, rookie forward John Flowers had 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocks and Yuki Kitamuki matched a season high with 18 points as Saitama edged the two-time defending champions and salvaged a series split.

Flowers buried five 3-point shots as the Broncos improved to 4-6 under bench boss Dean Murray.

Hamamatsu Higashimikawa (5-5) outscored Saitama 27-9 in the second quarter and led 45-38 at halftime.

With 1 second left in the fourth quarter, Phoenix guard Masahiro Oguchi’s basket tied it at 73-73 and forced overtime.

Jeffrey Parmer led Hamamatsu with 18 points, Atsuya Ota had 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals and Wayne Arnold had a 15-point, nine-rebound, five-assist, three-steal effort. Newcomer Gyno Pomare, playing his fourth game for the Phoenix, had six rebounds in 14:29. He did not score a point.

Golden Kings 70, Shining Suns 58

In Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture, Reggie Okosa notched a double-double (22 points, 12 boards) and Narito Namizato scored 20 as Ryukyu cruised past Miyazaki and earned a series sweep.

Dzaflo Larkai added 11 points and eight rebounds, while Tsubasa Yonamine contributed four assists and three steals for the Golden Kings (8-2).

Ryukyu led 33-18 at halftime.

For Miyazaki (2-8), center Darryl Dora was the top scorer with 17 points and Taishiro Shimizu scored 11. The Shining Suns were 4-for-27 from 3-point range.

Injury report: Chiba Jets center George Leach will be sidelined for several months with a right Achilles tendon injury. The former Indiana University big man sustained the injury on Nov. 6 in Akita.

The expansion Jets are currently 6-4 and tied for third place in the East.

Leach will have surgery in the United States, Jets coach Eric Gardow said.

“It is a 70-percent tear and he will return (estimated) some time in March once he’s fully recovered and rehabilitated,” Gardow told The Japan Times. “It was a significant loss and truly has affected our Chiba Jets family. He has some of the most insurmountable bj-league experience within our organization.”

Leach, 30, has previously played for the Takamatsu Five Arrows, Ryukyu Golden Kings, Saitama Broncos and Niigata Albirex BB. In his brief time with Chiba (7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in eight games), Leach has been a vital part of the team, Gardow said.

“He has personally helped me as well as the entire team on and off the court with his caring and genuine personality,” the coach added. “His presence in practice and on the court is irreplaceable.

“Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game, however, this loss really, really stings. Only those that have worked with George in the past will know what our loss really means.”

Palmer’s return: As expected, veteran forward David Palmer, a member of the Osaka Evessa’s first two title-winning teams, has rejoined the Ryukyu Golden Kings, it was announced on Monday.

Palmer played in 32 games last season for the Western Conference squad and averaged 13.5 points. He shot 45.4 percent (59-for-130 from 3-point range) and sank 83.1 percent of his free throws (74-for-89). He also pulled down 5.1 rebounds per game.

An excellent jump shooter, the 29-year-old Palmer gives the versatile Kings another valuable offensive weapon.