Seeking a return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 bj-league season, the Oita HeatDevils delivered a strong effort against the visiting Shimane Susanoo Magic on Friday night.
In an 89-75 win, the HeatDevils dominated in the rebounding department (51-26), forced 16 turnovers, collected 11 steals and outscored Shimane in each of the four quarters.
Oita improved to 17-24 overall (6-13 at home) and is currently in eighth place in the 10-team Western Conference. The seventh-place Takamatsu Five Arrows (17-23) and sixth-place Osaka Evessa (18-24) are also in the mix for the sixth and final playoff spot in the West.
Star guard Verdell Jones III had 23 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals for the HeatDevils, who led 49-39 at halftime. Devonne Giles scored 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Taishiro Shimizu had 18 points with four assists and three steals.
Gabe McCulley contributed 11 points for Oita, which sank 7 of 14 3-point shots.
Adrian Thomas, who buried 5 of 6 3s, had a team-high 21 points for Shimane (7-34). Koki Yabuuchi finished with 16 points, T.J. Cummings had 15 points and five blocked shots and Tatsuhiro Yokoo scored eight points and handed out nine assists. Edward Yamamoto dished out 10 assists.
Rowsom update: Former Oita head coach Brian Rowsom guided Al Rayyan to a runnerup finish in the Qatar Cup. Al Gharafa defeated Al Rayyan 91-88 in overtime in the championship game on Thursday.
Rowsom has coached the team, nicknamed the Lions, since 2011.
Rowsom, who played for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers (1987-88) and Charlotte Hornets (1988-90) and also the JBL’s Toshiba team (1995-98), coached the HeatDevils during the 2009-10 season.