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With seven victories in their past 10 games, the rejuvenated Sendai 89ers have bolstered their playoff chances.

First-year coach Shuto Kawachi’s team and the expansion Aomori Wat’s both have identical 21-21 records, but only one of those teams will likely lock up the Eastern Conference’s sixth and final playoff spot. The Niigata Albirex BB (26-18) have built a five-game cushion over the 89ers and Wat’s, while the defending champion and eighth-place Yokohama B-Corsairs (18-24) face a daunting task to climb above both Sendai and Aomori.

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