Broncos edge 89ers, snap 12-game losing streak


Staff Writer

The Saitama Broncos did enough things right to pick up a 72-68 victory over the visiting Sendai 89ers on Sunday, ending a 12-game slide.

Forward Dameion Baker, a key player on the now-defunct Tokyo Apache’s two championship runnerup teams during the Joe Bryant era, scored a team-high 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting for Saitama, and Nyika Williams and Yuki Kitamuki each had 18 points.

The Broncos hadn’t won a basketball game since a one-point triumph over the visiting Toyama Grouses on Nov. 17.

After dropping their bj-league series opener on Saturday, Saitama rallied in the second half to defeat the visitors at Tokorozawa Municipal Gymnasium.

The Broncos trailed 41-26 at the half, but put 46 points on the board after the break, and held the 89ers to 27.

Saitama improved to 3-19; Sendai fell to 8-13.

Williams contributed 11 rebounds and six assists for the hosts.

Kevin Coble paced the 89ers with 20 points, T.J. Cummings scored 16 and Yasuaki Arai had 11. Sendai point guard Takehiko Shimura fouled out and had zero points on the afternoon in nearly 32 minutes of court time. He had five assists. Sam Willard led the 89ers with 10 rebounds.

“That second half was brutal, we had a 47-30 lead and let it get away,” 89ers coach Bob Pierce told The Japan Times. “We got out-hustled and out-worked, and couldn’t stay mentally tough through some of the rough play and calls that went against us.”

Albirex BB 78, B-Corsairs 68

In Yokohama, Niigata’s rebounding prowess proved pivotal in a hard-fought win over the hosts, and the Albirex salvaged a series split.

The B-Corsairs’ nine-game win streak was halted.

The biggest reasons?

Three Yokohama players — Draelon Burns, Masayuki Kabaya and Pape Faye Mour — fouled out, and Niigata (18-7) held a 53-34 edge in rebounds, including 19 more offensive boards.

Coming into the rematch, B-Corsairs coach Reggie Geary said his players needed to do a better job rebounding after they were outworked in that area by 20 rebounds on Saturday at Yokohama International Swimming Pool.

Niigata center Chris Holm hauled in a game-best 14 rebounds and scored 13 points. Forward Rodney Webb, a former NBA Development League player, had 10 points, eight boards, six assists and three blocks. Shuhei Komatsu drained three 3s and was the top Albirex scorer with 14 points. Nile Murry scored 13 points and Taj Finger and Kimitake Sato each had eight.

Geary said it was a “tough, physical weekend where we were fortunate to get the split versus Niigata.”

“After missing some early good looks to start, our energy and focus was not where it needed to be versus a determined Niigata squad,” Geary added. “The second quarter was more of the same in terms of lack of energy…”

Yokohama trailed 33-24 at halftime.

“In the third, we decided to play with some energy and got ourselves back in the ballgame, but their size and particularly the play of Rodney Webb down the stretch was the difference,” said Geary.

Burns scored 18 points, Thomas Kennedy had 16 and Mour had 12. Kabaya and Yamada added seven apiece for Yokohama (17-7)

“Both teams struggled to find any sense of rhythm with the large number of fouls called,” Geary said after the 46-foul game.

Looking ahead, he added, “We’ll need a good week of practice with four games in five days leading into the All-Star break.”

Grouses 79, Evessa 76

In Toyama, Ira Brown’s double-double sparked the Grouses as they rebounded nicely from a Saturday setback.

Brown finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for Toyama (15-9). Brandon Cole had 15 points and eight boards off the bench, Takeshi Mito scored 12 points and Jeremy Jacob had 11, while Masashi Joho chipped in with seven.

For Osaka (4-18), Taizo Kawabe scored a team-high 17 points, Nathan Walkup poured in 13 and Mike Bell supplied 12 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Dwayne Lathan scored 11 points for Osaka, which shot 4-for-16 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Big Bulls 90, Crane Thunders 62

In Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture, Reggie Okosa scored 21 points on 7-for-8 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds in a high-energy performance against the hosts.

High-flying Lawrence Blackledge poured in 19 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked four shots, and Dillion Sneed (15 points, two dunks) and Kenichi Takahashi (15 points, three assists) helped the Eastern Conference-leading Big Bulls improve to 18-6 overall, including a league-best 11-3 record in away games.

Carlos Dixon added 11 points, five rebounds and five assists and Masato Tsukino filled the stat sheet with five points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists.

Iwate out-rebounded Gunma 52-36.

Dominique Keller was the top scorer for the Crane Thunders, finishing with 14 points. Lewis Witcher had an 11-point afternoon and Shingo Okada and Yuto Okumoto each had nine.

The Crane Thunders (4-20) had a woeful shooting performance (24-for-67 from the field) on a day when floor leader Jermaine Dixon was held to four points on 1-for-8 shooting.

“We played well for the first 15 minutes of today’s game, then I’m not sure where our composure, aggressiveness, and attention span went,” Gunma coach Ryan Blackwell told The Japan Times. “We show signs of being a good team but it’s only in spurts. We need more mental toughness.”

Jets 84, Brave Warriors 55

In Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, Marquin Chandler canned 4 of 6 3-point shots en route to 24 points and teammate D’Andre Bell had 23 points as the Jets throttled visiting Shinshu.

The Brave Warriors (13-13) lost their sixth consecutive game, playing their first contest since starting center Wayne Marshall suffered a ruptured left patella tendon that will sideline him for the remainder of the season.

Chiba, meanwhile, converted 62 percent (31-for-50) of its shots from inside the arc.

Joe Werner added 13 points and Hiroki Sato had 12 for the Jets (10-12).

For the Brave Warriors, Jermaine Green scored 15 points, Edward Morris added 13 points and nine boards and Takanori Goya had 12 points. Shinshu shot 22-for-64 from the field.

Lakestars 96, Shining Suns 84

In Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, the hosts’ high-octane offense ran smoothly from start to finish against hapless Miyazaki.

The Lakestars (14-10) led 27-6 after one quarter and had seven players with two or more assists, including Shinya Ogawa (eight), Dionisio Gomez (seven) and Ray Nixon (six).

Gomez had 36 points on 15-for-23 shooting and Nixon scored 29 points and buried 5 of 11 3s. Ogawa added 13 points and Takamichi Fujiwara poured in 11.

Larriques Cunningham paced the Shining Suns (3-21) with 25 points. Ricky Woods had 22 points, 13 rebounds and four assists and Abdullahi Kuso finished with 14 points and 13 boards.

Miyazaki had a dreadful afternoon from 3-point land, missing 28 of its 37 attempts.

Rizing 76, Susanoo Magic 68

In Fukuoka, veteran big man Julius Ashby was the catalyst for the Rizing as they salvaged a series split against Western Conference rival Shimane.

Ashby had 20 points and 11 rebounds and a game-altering five blocked shots for Fukuoka (16-8). Josh Peppers poured in 18 points and Reggie Warren provided 14 points and 12 boards for the victors. Akitomo Takeno scored eight points with three assists and two steals.

Jeral Davis led the Magic (16-8) with 18 points and 13 rebounds and Michael Parker had 15 points and nine boards. Shimane was 28-for-71 from the field.

Phoenix 77, HeatDevils 58

In Beppu, Oita Prefecture, Hamamatsu Higashimikawa absolutely destroyed Oita on the boards, grabbing 30 more rebounds, and completed a two-game sweep.

The HeatDevils, losers of 11 straight, fell to 9-15.

Shinnosuke Oishi scored 19 points with seven assists for the Phoenix (17-9) and Shoji Nakanishi had 17. Ex-Oita star Wendell White, now in his second stint with the Phoenix, contributed 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Jeffrey Parmer added seven points.

The Phoenix collected 63 rebounds on the afternoon, holding the HeatDevils to 33.

Oita’s Manabu Umemiya scored 19 points. Former Gunma forward Thomas Granado added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Cinq Reves 84, Five Arrows 79

In Takamatsu, Jonathon Jones had 25 points and 11 rebounds and Cohey Aoki sank 10 of 11 free throws in a vintage 17-point performance as Tokyo bounced back to win the series finale.

Rasheem Barrett scored 15 points and Dennis Carr added 12 points and 12 boards for the expansion Cinq Reves (9-15), who are coached by ex-Takamatsu mentor Motofumi Aoki.

Tokyo spent a large portion of the game at the charity stripe, where they went 32-for-43. (The Five Arrows were whistled for 31 fouls.)

Brandon Penn had a team-high 25 points, including five 3s, for Takamatsu (9-15), while Dexter Lyons scored 10.