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Five Arrows end 2013 on high note

by

Staff Writer

The Takamatsu Five Arrows closed out 2013 with a positive finish: a 63-50 New Year’s Eve triumph over the Niigata Albirex BB.

The Five Arrows outscored the visitors 19-3 in the second quarter to take a 28-15 advantage into halftime in Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture.

Niigata fell to 18-8, third-best record in the Eastern Conference. First-year head coach Fujitaka “Bomber” Hiraoka’s team is 13-1 at home.

Takamatsu, meanwhile, evened its record to 11-11 under third-year bench boss Kenzo Maeda, securing the win with 21-for-23 shooting at the free-throw line.

Dexter Lyons, a University of Central Florida product, led the hosts with 20 points and sank 9 of 10 foul shots. Paul Williams added 10 points and 21 rebounds and Sean Smith had 10 points. Tsubasa Yonezawa chipped in with eight points, knocking down 2 of 3 3-pointers. As a team, the Five Arrows were 4-for-18 from beyond the arc.

Niigata canned 2 of 18 3s and finished the series 2-for-28 from long range. Rodney Webb paced the Albirex with 12 points and 14 rebounds, Takamichi Fujiwara scored 10 points and Nile Murry and Suleiman Braimoh had eight apiece.

Monday’s recap

Albirex BB 61, Five Arrows 49

In Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture, Niigata topped Takamatsu in a defensive struggle, a game in which the teams made a combined 3 of 35 3-pointers.

Rodney Webb had 12 points for the Albirex (18-7), who won their fifth game in a row, and Kimitake Sato and Suleiman Braimoh each scored 11, while Patrick Sullivan had 10 points and four blocks. Niigata missed all 10 of its 3-pointers and was held to six fourth-quarter points.

Dexter Lyons scored 17 points for the Five Arrows (10-11), who were 3-for-25 from beyond the arc, 17-for-67 overall from the field and 12-for-22 at the charity stripe. Lyons struggled with his shot, going 1-for-9 on 3s.

Gunma talk: The Crane Thunders split their final series of 2013, dropping the series finale, 84-70, on Sunday to the Shiga Lakestars. Coach Hiroki Fujita’s club won the opener 85-84.

Gunma is 4-18, sitting in 10th place in the 11-team Eastern Conference.

“(It was) very tough to come up with consecutive wins for the weekend. However, I feel like this team has been, and is still, heading in the right direction, one step at a time,” Fujita told The Japan Times on Monday, “Including myself, our team has to have the winning mentality and enthusiasm throughout every practice and each game.”

Looking ahead: After a New Year’s Day break for all 21 teams, the league resumes play a day later. The Shimane Susanoo Magic (5-17) play host to the Iwate Big Bulls (13-7) on Thursday (3 p.m. tipoff) and Friday (2 p.m.). The Ryukyu Golden Kings (17-3) take on the visiting Saitama Broncos (2-20) on the same days, with both contests slated to start at 2 p.m.