The Iwate Big Bulls ushered in the new year with a thorough throttling of the host Shimane Susanoo Magic, winning 86-71 on Thursday afternoon.
Iwate took a 27-10 advantage into the second quarter and held a comfortable lead during the remainder of the game, the first for the bj-league in 2014, in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture.
The Big Bulls (14-7) were in front 39-24 after two quarters and 61-40 entering the final stanza.
Shimane’s 31 fourth-quarter points made the game appear closer than it actually was.
Lawrence Blackledge paced Iwate with 21 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots and Josh Peppers poured in 15 points. Scootie Randall and Kenichi Takahashi both scored 13 points, the latter also dishing out a team-high eight assists. Gyno Pomare added 10 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
The high-energy Big Bulls hauled in 26 offensive rebounds in the lopsided contest and held a 57-43 overall advantage on the boards.
For Shimane (5-18), Jeral Davis finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. T.J. Cummings scored 14 points and Shawn Malloy had 11 points and 10 boards. Edward Yamamoto handed out six assists in the series opener.
Golden Kings 83, Broncos 62
In Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Ryukyu seized control of the game with a stellar third-quarter performance and had six players with two steals in a rout over hapless Saitama.
The Broncos’ epic losing streak was extended to 18 games. It began on Oct. 20.
Saitama (2-21) has the worst record in the 21-team league. Barring a miracle, the team will miss the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season despite being one of the league’s original two breakaway franchises (along with the Niigata Albirex BB) from the old JBL and facing new expansion teams every season.
Conversely, Ryukyu (18-3 overall, 10-1 at home) is primed for another run at a championship.
Reigning regular-season MVP Anthony McHenry had 25 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals for the Kings, who led 67-48 after three quarters.
Draelon Burns had 13 points and Kibwe Trim added 11 points and 10 boards for Ryukyu, while Jeff Newton finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Shigeyuki Kinjo buried two 3-pointers in an eight-point performance.
John Humphrey scored 16 points on 6-for-21 shooting for the Broncos. Teammates Michael Joiner and Mark Dawson had 14 and 12, respectively.