Eighteen bj-league teams were in action over the weekend, and none looked better than the Kyoto Hannaryz, who extended their winning streak to 10 with a two-game sweep of the visiting Chiba Jets on Sunday.
The Hannaryz earned a 95-70 win in the series finale and improved to 13-5 under first-year coach Honoo Hamaguchi.
Kyoto out-rebounded Chiba 55-31 and outscored the expansion squad in each of the four quarters. What’s more, the Hannaryz turned the ball over only eight times. It all added up to a winning recipe. Rick Rickert paced the Hannaryz with 23 points and 16 rebounds, Taizo Kawabe poured in 21 points, Sunao Murakami scored 15 and Lance Allred notched a double-double (13 points, 12 boards).
Jamel Staten led Chiba (9-9) with 22 points. Maurice Hargrow had a 14-point effort and Takaki Ishida scored 11 for the Jets.
“They are a great team,” Jets coach Eric Gardow said, “well coached and I am not sure how they ever lost.
“They have a great coach, experienced Japanese players and were the better team this weekend.
“We have a lot more work to do and must improve in every aspect of the game”
89ers 60, Golden Kings 57
In Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Sendai played hard-nosed defense to salvage a series split against Ryukyu.
Johnny Dukes had 17 points and 10 rebounds, O’Neal “Trey” Mims added 14 points and 15 boards and captain Takehiko Shimura contributed 10 points as Sendai improved to 11-7.
“We weren’t going to let Take lose, and I was determined to leave him out there all 40 minutes if necessary, and it was, because he is the heart and soul of our team,” Sendai coach Bob Pierce told The Japan Times after the game.
Indeed, Shimura played all 40 minutes and was a stabilizing force for the 89ers throughout the contest.
Perennial All-Star big man Jeff Newton did not play for the Golden Kings after an ankle injury on Saturday. His teammates missed his inside presence in the rematch, shooting 21-for-66 from the field. Dzaflo Larkai had a team-high 13 points for Ryukyu (13-5) and four teammates added seven apiece.
Center Rashaad Singleton played a key role for Sendai in the win. “Rashaad had another great day anchoring our defense. He only had two blocks, but he altered so many shots,” Pierce said, noting the Golden Kings shot 34.8 percent on 2-point field goals. “That allowed everyone else to pressure the ball and prevent too many open shots.
“(Yoshihiro) Tachibana in particular was a defensive maniac in the third and fourth quarters. Highlights of his defensive play should go in the next bj-league instruction video.”
Golden Kings forward Reggie Okosa, a gifted scorer, was ejected after picking up his second technical foul in the third quarter.
“They rely so much on Okosa and Larkai, who are nightmare matchups, but Rashaad neutralized a lot of that, and our other three import players are versatile enough to guard just about anyone else anywhere out on the court,” Pierce said. “They only had one player in double figures today (Larkai with 13), and that’s probably never happened any time recently.
“Of course they are an extremely good defensive team, so we only managed 60 points, but that was enough today.”
Here’s how Dukes summed up the Sendai victory on his Facebook page: “It was a total team effort, proud of my guys. We battled all game and came out with a win. . .”
Big Bulls 73, HeatDevils 63
In Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Shawn Malloy had 16 points, 17 rebounds and four steals and Yoshiaki Yamamoto poured in 14 points as Iwate won its fourth consecutive game.
Tasuku Namizato handed out eight assists for the expansion Big Bulls (5-13). T.J. Cummings led Oita (4-14) with 17 points, while Matt Lottich scored 15 and Zach Atkinson had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Brave Warriors 87, Broncos 84
In Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture, Lee Roberts had 35 points and 19 rebounds and Derek Raivio scored 23 points as Shinshu bounced back from a loss in the series opener.
Roberts scored 75 points over the weekend. The Brave Warriors improved to 9-9.
For Saitama (6-10), John Humphrey was the top scorer with 24. He had 52 points in the series opener in the second-highest single-game output in league history (one shy of Michael Parker’s league record).
The Broncos were 41-for-42 from the free-throw line in the series opener, but those numbers decreased to 5-for-7 in the series finale.
Shinshu won the battle on the boards (54-26 edge in rebounds). Tyler Hughes hauled in 20 boards to lead the visitors.
Broncos guard Yuki Kitamuki scored 18 points, Daiki Terashita chipped in with 16 and Kenny Satterfield had an 11-point, 13-assist afternoon for Saitama.
B-Corsairs 76, Rizing 73
In Fukuoka, Masayuki Kabaya scored a team-high 25 points, Chas McFarland grabbed 20 rebounds and Yokohama earned a series split.
Justin Burrell added 13 points and nine rebounds for the B-Corsairs (7-9). Minoru Kimura and Kenji Yamada each made three steals. Kevin Palmer was Fukuoka’s top scorer (30 points) and Jun Nakanishi scored 14. The Rizing slipped to 11-7.
Grouses 102, Albirex BB 76
In Ariso, Toyama Prefecture, Haakim Johnson and Brian Harper scored 22 and 20 points, respectively and Masashi Joho made five 3-pointers as the hosts improved to 7-9.
Joho finished with 15 points and four steals.
Erron Maxey and Nile Murry led Niigata (8-8) with 19 points apiece and Yuichi Ikeda had 16.
Northern Happinets 78, Shining Suns 64
In Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture, Michael Gardener’s 19-point, seven-rebound, six-assist, three-steal effort guided Akita to a bounce-back win in the series finale.
Stanley Ocitti (18 points, 12 boards) and Kazuhiro Shoji (17 points, 5-for-6 on 3s) also played prominent roles for Eastern Conference-leading Akita (12-6).
Darryl Dora and Lewis Witcher paced Miyazaki (7-11) with 14 points and Taishiro Shimizu scored 13.
Susanoo Magic 76, Five Arrows 62
In Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Jeral Davis was a defensive stalwart, blocking nine shots as the hosts swept winless Takamatsu. Davis also had 17 points and 11 rebounds, coming within a block of a rare type of triple-double. Reggie Golson scored 17 points and Tatsuhiro Yokoo had 16 for Shimane (10-8), which played without suspended All-Star Michael Parker over the weekend.
Paul Butorac led Takamatsu (0-18) with 20 points.
Phoenix 95, Lakestars 85
In Hamamatsu, Jermaine Dixon scored 29 points to lead the two-time reigning champions to a series split.
Jeffrey Parmer and Wayne Arnold had 12 points apiece and Masahiro Oguchi added 11 for the Phoenix (10-8).