The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix don’t have the fiery, demanding Kazuo Nakamura barking instructions from the bench anymore, but the two-time defending champions still feature a gifted ensemble of basketball players capable of winning another championship in May.

With the Chiba Jets applying pressure late in the fourth quarter, the Phoenix raised the intensity level and made big plays, including reigning regular-season and playoff MVP Jeffrey Parmer’s two free throws to make it a 12-point game — a little breathing room for the out-of-towners — with 2:21 remaining.

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