Between them, the Osaka Evessa and Ryukyu Golden Kings captured the bj-league’s first four championships, including the Evessa’s three-peat from the beginning of the league’s existence. Both teams have also finished runnerup once apiece.
Each of the league’s six previous seasons has included either Osaka or Ryukyu in the championship game. And whenever the teams meet, it’s a big event for the bj-league.
This time, though, Evessa power forward Lynn Washington’s absence — he was arrested March 13 for his alleged involvement in smuggling marijuana into Japan — brought a different feel to the heated rivalry. The Golden Kings dominated in the second half in a 97-75 home win on Saturday over the Evessa.
Ryukyu (34-9) is 2-1 against Osaka this season.
Narito Namizato paced the Golden King with a season-high 29 points on 12-for-17 shooting and dished out eight assists. Dzaflo Larkai added 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, David Palmer and Naoto Kosuge each had 12-point games and Anthony McHenry scored nine points with 10 boards. Kosuge grabbed 14 rebounds and Jeff Newton had seven points and 11 boards.
Mike Bell led the Evessa (28-13) with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Bobby St. Preux had 14 points, while Cohey Aoki and Satoshi Takeda both had 13; Aoki was held to two points in the second half. Big man Wayne Marshall scored eight points.
Osaka swept the Shimane Susanoo Magic last weekend at home, winning a pair of emotional games after two-time MVP Washington’s arrest.
Jets 80, B-Corsairs 62
In Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Chiba held the hosts to nine fourth-quarter points en route to a win in the series opener.
Jamel Staten and Maurice Hargrow paced the Jets (15-26) with 22 points apiece, Takaki Ishida scored a season-high 19 points and Shota Isshiki had a 10-point game. Staten also had 15 rebounds, eight assists and five steals.
For Yokohama (22-21), Chas McFarland scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots and Marcus Simmons scored 13 points. Justin Burrell and Draelon Burns each had 10 points.
Big men Antoine Broxsie, plagued by foul trouble and coping with food poisoning, and Gaston Moliva, who also foul trouble, were out of the game early on, but Tomoya Nakamura came off the bench to give the Jets a much-needed spark in the frontcourt.
“We finished a game finally and over a really, really good team,” Chiba coach Eric Gardow said, “thanks to Chomo early in the game filling in for Broxsie and Moliva. Besides Hargrow and Staten, our team defense got momentum from our offense.”
He added: “Ishi was outstanding in every aspect of the game, especially scoring with 19 points and Shota had 10 off the bench. Those two gave us the left we needed and what we needed to finish the game. … We will need to rebound better and lower our turnovers to win tomorrow.”
89ers 96, Brave Warriors 78 (OT)
In Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, Johnny Dukes had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the the hosts to an overtime win over Shinshu. The 89ers had 22 points in the bonus period to the Warriors’ four.
Takuya Komoda scored 17 points, Dan Fitzgerald had 13 and Takehiko Shimura contributed nine points for the 89er, who played their first home game outside of Sendai this season. It was the team’s first game in Shiogama in four years.
“In the second half our defense got us back into a game that had been a nightmare on offense,” Sendai coach Bob Pierce said. “Taku’s scoring in OT — mostly on passes from Johnny — turned a near loss into a needed win.”
The 89ers improved to 21-20. The Warriors fell to 15-26.
Yosuke Saito, Lee Roberts and Edward Morris had 11-point outings for Shinshu, and Takato Saito chipped in with 10 points and five assists. Lead guard Derek Raivio missed his third straight game with a groin injury.
Lakestars 88, Five Arrows 75
In Takamatsu, Julius Ashby notched a double-double (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Dionisio Gomez’s 17 points and eight rebounds lifted Shiga past the Five Arrows, who lost their 14th straight game.
Josh Peppers poured in 12 points, Shinya Ogawa scored 11 and Yu Okada finished with nine points and four assists for the Lakestars (25-16).
Hiroyuki Kikuchi had a team-high 16 points and Paul Butorac scored 15 points for Takamatsu (2-39).
HeatDevils 93, Rizing 86
In Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture, T.J. Cummings scored a game-high 35 points and raked in 12 rebounds in Oita’s series-opening win over Fukuoka.
Wendell White contributed 17 points and nine rebounds and Taj Finger scored 12 points with nine boards. Kohei Mitomo added 11 points and Naoto Takushi handed out six assists for the HeatDevils (17-24).
For the Rizing (26-15), Kevin Palmer was the top scorer with 24 points and Gary Hamilton had 14 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Carlos Dixon scored 19 points and Akitomo Takeno had 11. Fukuoka had a rough day at the line, shooting 11-for-23.
Northern Happinets 97, Broncos 94
In Noshiro, Akita Prefecture, Kyle Swanston took 17 3-point shots and made four of them, but still wound up with 28 points in the hosts’ win over Saitama.
Swanston finished with a team-best 28 points and E.J. Drayton scored 25 for Akita (26-17). Ricky Woods had 13 points and five assists.
For Saitama (11-30), John Flowers scored 27 points and hauled in 11 rebounds, but shot 3-for-10 at the foul line. Kenny Satterfield had 19 points and seven assists, Yasuaki Arai scored 14 points and John Humphrey had 10. Jayme Miller added nine points and 12 boards and Yuki Kitamuki scored eight and collected 10 boards.
The Broncos, who have lost the rebounding battle in most of their games this season, won it this time (57-53, including 22 offensive boards).
Saitama shot 17-for-43 on 3s.
Susanoo Magic 75, Hannaryz 63
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Michael Parker scored 26 points and B.J. Puckett had 18 as the hosts got past Kyoto.
Jeral Davis had 13 points (four dunks) and four blocked shots and Jumpei Nakama provided six points and five assists for Shimane (22-21).
Rick Rickert’s 19-point, 18-rebound effort carried the Hannaryz (26-15), Jermaine Boyette had 14 points and Babacar Camara added 12.
Big Bulls 81, Grouses 79
In Ninohe, Iwate Prefecture, the expansion Big Bulls ensured they will earn at least a weekend split for the fourth straight series by winning the opener.
Thomas Kennedy scored 27 points, Shawn Malloy supplied 15 points and 14 boards for the victors, Gordon Klaiber had 14 points and Makoto Sawaguchi and Jamal Boykin both scored eight points as Iwate improved to 13-30.
Brian Harper had 30 points and 10 rebounds for Toyama (21-20), while All-Star Masashi Joho returned to the lineup after a four-game absence and scored 15 points and Devin Searcy had 13. Ira Brown added nine points and nine rebounds for the Grouses.