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Struggling Yokohama falling out of playoff race

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The defending bj-league champion Yokohama B-Corsairs are fading from playoff contention.

The visiting Niigata Albirex BB handed Yokohama its eighth loss in the past 10 games on Saturday, winning 92-82.

The B-Corsairs (18-25) have lost four straight games and occupy eighth place in the 11-team Eastern Conference. The top six teams in each conference advance to postseason play in May.

Niigata (27-18) drained 15 of 31 3-point shots, including Kimitake Sato’s 5-for-10. He finished with a team-best 23 points. Nile Murry sank 4 of 6 3s in a spirited 18-point performance, with nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. Thomas Kennedy also had 18 points in the series opener.

The Albirex got 10 points from Patrick Sullivan and nine from Shuhei Komatsu. Veteran guard Takamichi Fujiwara had seven points and dished out a season-high six assists. Yuichi Ikeda also poured in seven points.

Niigata’s offense clicked, with first-year head coach Fujitaka “Bomber” Hiraoka’s squad finishing with 25 assists and 11 turnovers.

Marcus Simmons had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Yokohama, which lost original coach Reggie Geary after the team’s title last May. (Geary now leads the NBL’s Chiba Jets, who played in the bj-league last season, and Michael Katsuhisa, Geary’s ex-assistant for two seasons, is at the helm.)

B-Corsairs center Wayne Marshall scored 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting and Masayuki Kabaya contributed 13 points and nine assists.

Lakestars 95, Susanoo Magic 75

In Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, Marshall Brown scored a game-high 33 points and Brandon Fields had 16 points and 10 assists as the hosts routed Shimane.

Brown knocked down 6 of 10 3s; his team went 7-for-13 from beyond the arc.

Shelton Colwell had 14 points and three blocks for the Lakestars (23-22), while Dionisio Gomez had 11 points and seven rebounds.

T.J. Cummings and Shawn Malloy both scored 16 points for the Susanoo Magic (7-36). Malloy also grabbed 15 rebounds. Tatsuhiro Yokoo scored 12 points and Edward Yamamoto had 10 assists in the loss.

Shimane coach Reggie Hanson called it a “tough loss tonight.”

“We were only down three in the fourth with 6:30 left,” Hanson told The Japan Times. “Just not enough bodies to sustain the intensity for 40 minutes. (The) injury bug still has us.”

Big Bulls 89, Phoenix 69

In Hamamatsu, Lawrence Blackledge, Josh Peppers and Gyno Pomare all had 18-point games and Iwate cruised past the hosts.

Scootie Randall poured in 15 points and Kenichi Takahashi had 10, and the Big Bulls (31-12) shot 57.1 percent from 2-point range, including Takahashi’s 5-for-6, Pomare’s 9-for-14 and Blackledge’s 8-for-14.

In a standout all-around effort, Blackledge provided nine boards, five assists, three blocks and two steals for the visitors. Pomare also swatted three shots.

Hamamatsu (25-18) missed 13 of 15 3-pointers. Dior Lowhorn led the Phoenix with 15 points and Aki Chambers and Jermaine Dixon each had 12. Ray Nixon and Atsuya Ota scored eight apiece.

Broncos 101, Cinq Reves 66

In Saitama, John Humphrey, the league’s leading scorer, had a 46-point outburst and Michael Joiner netted 30 points as the Broncos snapped an 11-game losing streak.

Humphrey was 15-for-25 from the field and 10-for-10 at the free-throw line for Saitama (5-38)

Anwar Ferguson hauled in 15 rebounds and Joiner had 11 boards.

Tokyo (11-32) trailed 28-13 after the opening quarter. The Cinq Reves shot 23-for-70 from the field. Ricky Woods had 23 points in the loss and Edward Morris scored 19.

Wat’s 90, Brave Warriors 75

In Kuroishi, Aomori Prefecture, Gordon Klaiber had 20 points and four teammates scored in double figures as the Wat’s routed Shinshu in the series opener.

Yuki Yamaguchi had a season-high 17 points for Aomori (22-21), while Yuki Kitamuki scored 13, Makoto Sawaguchi netted 12 and Abdullahi Kuso had 11 with 14 rebounds.

For the Brave Warriors (27-16), Jeff Parmer scored 19 points, Xavier Gibson notched a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds), Patrick Sanders had 16 points and Shota Konno 11.

Shinshu missed 28 of 33 3-point attempts.

Grouses 97, Crane Thunders 87

In Toyama, Ira Brown’s 11-for-12 shooting night and 26 total points carried the Grouses past Gunma.

Takeshi Mito added 20 points for Toyama (35-10), Djibril Thiam had 14 points and Josh Gross pumped in 12. Tatsunori Fujie scored 11 points and handed out five assists and Masashi Joho chipped in with nine points, seven assists and three steals.

The Grouses drained 12 of 22 3s; the Crane Thunders made 8 of 16.

For Gunma (12-31), Carlos Dixon had 30 points, Dillion Sneed scored 15 and Jermaine Green added 14.

Northern Happinets 99, 89ers 97

In Sendai, Richard Roby hit a buzzer-beating shot to lift Akita to victory over the hosts.

In addition to Roby’s late-game heroics, he led all players with 31 points and seven steals. Akita guard Yuki Togashi, a rising star at age 20, scored 27 points and dished out four assists. Ruben Boykin had a 21-point, 13-rebound, six-assist night for the Happinets (36-9). Yuto Otsuka sank a trio of 3s to account for all of his nine points and Deshawn Stephens had eight points.

Akita big man Chas McFarland, sidelined for five games due to a broken nose, returned to the rotation and played 6:25 (three points, three rebounds and a block, while being whistled for two fouls).

DeAngelo Hamilton led Sendai (21-22) with 25 points and Travele Jones scored 23 with six assists and three steals. Guard Yasuaki Arai had the hot hand from the perimeter, burying 7 of 8 3s in a 21-point effort. Former league MVP Wendell White scored 12 points on 3-for-13 shooting.

Golden Kings 75, HeatDevils 65

In Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Ryukyu’s reserves scored 54 points to lead a high-energy effort over Oita.

Draelon Burns came off the bench for 26 points to spark the Golden Kings (37-6 overall, 22-1 at home) and fellow backup Kibwe Trim had 13 points.

Starting guard Naoto Kosuge scored nine points and backup guard Narito Namizato provided nine points, eight boards, five assists, three steals and a block while playing 27-plus minutes.

Gabe McCulley paced the HeatDevils (18-25) with 19 points. Devonne Giles had 18 points and 13 rebounds and teammate Verdell Jones III scored 15 points.

Bambitious 87, Evessa 75

In Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture, guard Joe Chapman canned five 3s en route to 21 points with five assists and Jamar Abrams nailed four 3s in an 18-point night as the hosts beat Osaka.

Nara, a first-year franchise, improved to 14-29. Ryo Inagaki scored 13 points and Anthony Brown and Jumpei Honda each had 11, and Adrian Moss added eight points, six boards and two blocks for the victors.

For Osaka (20-25), Zach Andrews led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds. D’Andre Bell and Darko Cohadarevic both had 12 points and Naoto Nakamura scored 10. Kevin Galloway dished out nine assists, but also had six turnovers.

Rizing 76, Five Arrows 72

In Fukuoka, Julius Ashby’s defensive impact spearheaded a narrow victory over Takamatsu.

Ashby blocked six shots on a night when every point mattered greatly for both teams. He finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Fukuoka (22-21) hurt its cause at the free-throw line, going 18-for-31, but had a balance scoring attack. Cohey Aoki had 13 points, Reggie Warren and Seth Tarver both scored 12 and Akitomo Takeno supplied nine. Warren grabbed 10 rebounds to complete the double-double.

Dexter Lyons and Paul Williams each had 18 points for the Five Arrows (18-25), the latter also hauling in 11 rebounds. Andrais Thornton scored 11 points and Masaaki Suzuki had nine.

Takamatsu out-rebounded the hosts 47-42.

“It was a very tough game,” Fukuoka coach James Duncan told The Japan Times. “I’m not sure the (one-week) break hurt us or helped us in this game. I think we started the game well, but we let our foot off the gas and relaxed. I think Takamatsu played us extremely tough and they fought back into the game in the third quarter.

“They hurt us on the glass, which we need to do a better job tomorrow in rebounding. We were able to catch ourselves in the fourth quarter. Kas (Keisuke Takabatake) gave us a great boost of energy of the bench which we needed.

“I believe tomorrow will be a similar game and we need to be hungry to get the second win this weekend.”