The Saitama Broncos finally found a way to chalk up a victory on Sunday.
A methodical 101-87 win over the Oita HeatDevils ended Saitama’s season-long losing streak.
The Broncos (1-23) topped the century mark in points for the first time this season. And they had a quick start offensively, outscoring the hosts 33-27 in the opening quarter in Beppu, Oita Prefecture.
Oita (9-17) trailed 60-46 at halftime, and never recovered.
Koji Nagata had a team-high 23 points for Saitama, which closed out a 5-47 campaign in 2013-14 with 20 losses in its final 21 games.
The bigger picture: The Broncos have won two of their past 44 games.
This season, they have been outscored by a whopping 417 points.
But on Sunday, Oita failed to slow down the Saitama offense. Gary Johnson had 21 points, including 13-for-14 at the free-throw line, with nine rebounds and four assists before fouling out, and Nyika Williams poured in 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Ari Stewart added 14 points and Shun Otsuka scored 11.
In an interview with The Japan Times, Johnson summed up the what the long-sought win means for him and his teammates.
“This victory is huge for everyone in the program,” Johnson told The Japan Times. “It is a confidence booster. Getting our first win is a major release. A game Ari and I will always remember, because it was our first win as professionals. We just want to build off this win and a keep getting better.
Kellen Thornton led the HeatDevils with 25 points and 11 rebounds and ex-Bronco Taishiro Shimizu finished with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Demetri McCamey added 15 points and Kazuya “J.” Hatano, another ex-Bronco, had 12 points and five boards.
Saitama out-rebounded Oita 53-39.
Phoenix 79, Bambitious 65
In Nara, Hamamatsu rode the hot-shooting of Olu Ashaolu (21 points, 8-for-9 from the field) and Masahiro Oguchi (17 points, 3-for-6 from long range) to collect its 14th consecutive victory.
Mo Charlo sparked the visitors with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
The Phoenix (23-3) are 11-1 on the road.
Michael St. John had a double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Chehales Tapscott added 17 points and 10 boards for the Bambitious (9-15). Andre Murray scored 11 points, Taishi Kasahara had a seven-point afternoon and Tatsuya Suzuki dished out six assists.
Lakestars 101, Rizing 62
In Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, from start to finish, the Lakestars overwhelmed Fukuoka, which played its final scheduled game before new head coach Joe Bryant’s arrival later this month to take over for current 25-year-old bench boss Ken Hamanaka.
The Rizing (6-20) faced a 27-9 deficit after one quarter. The Shiga lead ballooned to 56-23 entering the second half.
Terrance Woodbury paced the Lakestars (15-7) with 27 points along with nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, and Yu Okada supplied 21 points. Ray Nixon had 19 points and eight rebounds, while Jeff Parmer chipped in with 18 points, seven boards and six assists. Yutaka Yokoe contributed nine points and five assists.
A day after turning the ball over a league-record 32 times, Fukuoka, which has lost four straight, coughed it up 23 times in the series finale.
Josh Peppers led the Rizing with 19 points and Keisuke Takabatake netted 15.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.