Longtime NBA assistant coach Charlie Parker and big man Melvin Ely, the 12th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, made their bj-league regular-season debuts on Saturday.
But the Shiga Lakestars upstaged the hosts, winning 96-85 and stealing the thunder from Parker’s first regular-season as the Gunma Crane Thunders bench boss.
In 23-plus minutes, the 208-cm Ely scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting. The 36-year-old, who wrapped up the 2013-14 NBA season playing for the New Orleans Pelicans, had four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture.
Parker was an assistant for the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends lasts season. The 65-year-old had previously worked as an assistant for New Orleans (2006-07) and Dallas Mavericks (1995-02005).
Ely’s inside presence helped the Crane Thunders, a third-year franchise, have an efficient inside game. Gunma made 29 of 47 shots from 2-point range, but Parker’s squad also committed 22 turnovers.
Shiga’s Terrance Woodbury and Yu Okada proved to be the game’s most dynamic one-two punch. The former had 30 points and four steals; Okada, meanwhile, pumped in 27 points and collected four steals. Jeff Parmer added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Lakestars, who are 3-0 to open the season under new coach Koto Toyama.
Masahiro Kano and Chris Holm both scored seven points for Shiga, with Holm pulling down 10 rebounds.
Gunma led 43-41 at halftime.
Shiga scored 33 third-quarter points to take control of the game.
Daniel Northern had a team-high 17 points with 10 rebounds for the Crane Thunders. Kenya Tomori scored 15 points and dished out six assists, and Carlos Dixon matched Tomori’s scoring output.
Despite the perceived motivation that fires up some players to compete against ex-NBA players, Parmer insisted that “it was just another game to me and my teammates.”
In a post-game interview with The Japan Times, he added: “(It was) another day to get better as a team and put another W on the board. Whether he (Ely) played in the NBA or not doesn’t change how we’re going to come out and play as a team each and every game.
“We’re going to play with the same intensity level every practice and game. That is the only way we will reach our ultimate team goal, which is to win a championship.”
What presence did Ely bring to Gunma to start its season?
“He brings a nice inside presence for Gunma,” Parmer said.
Golden Kings 83, Five Arrows 75
In Takamatsu, Draelon Burns, a title winner the past two seasons with Yokohama and Ryukyu, canned six 3-pointers in an electrifying 23-point outing off the bench as reigning champion Ryukyu rolled past the Five Arrows.
Kibwe Trim scored 19 points on a perfect 9-for-9 shooting night and Anthony McHenry supplied 15 points, 10 boards, four assists and two blocks for the Golden Kings. Anthony Kent contributed 10 points and Narito Namizato and Ryuichi Kishimoto both scored six.
Justin Watts and Dexter Lyons paced Takamatsu with 15 points apiece. Masaaki Suzuki scored 11 points and B.J. Puckett had nine points and nine rebounds.
Hannaryz 81, Rizing 54
In Kama, Fukuoka Prefecture, Reggie Warren’s 16-point, nine-rebound effort and Kyoto’s balanced scoring guided the visitors to a well-rounded win over the hosts.
Ryan Forehan-Kelly scored 15 points, Kevin Kotzur had 14 and David Palmer and Shun Watanuki added 10 apiece for the Hannaryz, who are 3-0 to open the season.
Fukuoka was held to three assists and turned the ball over 17 times.
The Rizing were 0-for-13 from 3-point range. Josh Peppers led the hosts with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Kirk Van Slyke had 11 points.
Phoenix 70, Susanoo Magic 49
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Nile Murry and Olu Ashaolu scored 13 points apiece and Hamamatsu Higashimikawa’s defense tormented the hosts all night.
Shimane finished with 29 turnovers, two shy of the league record, which was set by Shinshu on March 17, 2012, against Akita.
The Magic faced a 17-6 deficit after one quarter, and never recovered.
Masahiro Oguchi and Mo Charlo both scored nine points for the Phoenix, while Tasuku Namizato had six assists.
Tatsuhiro Yokoo was Shimane’s lone double-digit scorer (13 points.).
The Magic were held to 16-for-47 shooting.
89ers 90, Northern Happinets 76
In Akita, Long Beach State alum Kejuan Johnson buried 6 of 7 3-point attempts en route to a game-high 28 points and added seven rebounds, five assists and two steals for Sendai.
Johnson shot 11-for-14 from the field.
Wendell White finished with 25 points, while DeAngelo Hamilton chipped in with 15 points and 12 boards for the 89ers. Veteran point guard Takehiko Shimura added 10 points and three assists.
The 89ers outscored the hosts 29-16 in the pivotal third quarter to take a 67-55 advantage into the final stanza.
For the Northern Happinets, Richard Roby was the high scorer with 24 points and Ruben Boykin had 21 points and five assists. Akita guard Shigehiro Taguchi scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Big Bulls 91, Firebonds 57
In Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, coach Dai Oketani’s club put 55 points on the board in the second half and held Fukushima to 26 as the game turned into a rout.
The Firebonds, a 2014-15 expansion team, trailed 36-31 at halftime.
Scootie Randall paced Iwate with 18 points, adding nine rebounds, three assists and three steals for good measure. Lawrence Blackledge had 14 points, nine boards and four assists and Wayne Arnold and Tsubasa Yonamine each scored 13 points.
The Big Bulls shot 30-for-52 from 2-point range and 16-for-18 at the foul line. They dished out 18 assists with only nine turnovers on the afternoon.
Edward Morris scored 14 points for Fukushima, which had 15 turnovers. James Hughes had 12 points, while Terrance Shannon and Atsushi Nogami both poured in nine. Masaya Karimata contributed seven points, four assists and three steals.
The Firebonds were playing their first game since beating the Aomori Wat’s 66-64 on Sunday, which was the first-regular season victory in franchise history.
Fukushima shot 10-for-20 at the free-throw line.
Albirex BB 73, Broncos 64
In Niigata, Patrick Sullivan scored 18 points and Thomas Kennedy supplied 16 as the hosts earned a win over fellow JBL defector Saitama.
Kennedy and Stephen Van Treese each had 10 rebounds for Niigata. Kennedy and Sullivan were the team’s assist leaders with five apiece.
Kimitake Sato poured in 14 points and Van Treese, a former University of Louisville player, had 10 points.
For the Broncos, who are 0-3 under new coach Kazuaki Shimoji, Jon Ekey had 18 points, including five 3-pointers. Takato Hara, Gary Johnson and Yuki Sasaki all scored nine points in the loss, while Koji Nagata added eight.
Saitama was 11-for-21 at the charity stripe.
Brave Warriors 105, B-Corsairs 90
In Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Shinshu raced out to a 31-17 lead after one quarter and sank 14 3-pointers in a high-scoring performance.
Patrick Sanders knocked down 5 of 6 3s in a banner 22-point effort, while center Mohamed Abukar scored 20 points. Floor leader Jermaine Dixon added 15 points, a game-high 12 assists and three steals for the Brave Warriors. Carl Hall and Takato Saito scored 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Both teams dished out 27 assists.
Yokohama’s Warren Niles led the team with 21 points, but shot 2-for-9 from beyond the arc. Dzaflo Larkai added 17 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Wayne Marshall had 11 points and six assists and Kenji Yamada and Seiji Kono both scored 10 points.
Bambitious 91, Evessa 79
In Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, Tatsuya Suzuki paced the hosts with 18 points and five assists and the Bambitious shot 58.7 percent from inside the arc in a victory over Osaka.
Forward Chehales Tapscott, a Portland State product, had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and guard Andre Murray, who attended the same college, also put 17 points on the board. Michael St. John added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the hosts, while Takuro Ito scored 13 points.
Coach Ryutaro Onodera’s club hauled in 17 offensive rebounds and held a 46-36 overall advantage.
Joshua Dorado paced the Evessa with 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Shota Konno and Seth Tarver finished with 12 points apiece. Gary Hamilton added 10 points, 12 boards and three steals, while Naoto Nakamura contributed eight points.
Wat’s 92, HeatDevils 85 (OT)
In Oita, Gyno Pomare scored a game-high 21 points as Aomori outlasted the HeatDevils in overtime.
Paul Williams notched a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Yuki Kitamuki, Kenichi Takahashi and Damian Saunders all scored 11 points apiece for the Wat’s. Makoto Sawaguchi had 10 points.
Aomori raked in 56 rebounds to the hosts’ 42.
Todd O’Brien scored 20 points for Oita. Kellen Thornton added 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Demetri McCamey provided 14 points and six assists. Drew Barnham and Hiroki Oshiro scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.