The Kyoto Hannaryz took their first step toward securing a fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four.
The top-seeded Hannaryz played lockdown defense en route to a 93-63 triumph over the Takamatsu Five Arrows in Game 2 of their bj-league Western Conference first-round series on Monday in Kyoto.
It was the second blowout in as many days for Kyoto, which had a league-record 44-8 mark in the regular season. The eighth-seeded Five Arrows dropped Sunday’s series opener 102-73.
Kyoto faces the fourth-seeded Shiga Lakestars in another two-game series this Saturday and Sunday with a trip to the Final Four on the line. The West’s other semifinal showdown features the reigning champion Ryukyu Golden Kings, the No. 2 seed, against the third-seeded Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix in Okinawa.
In their rematch, the Hannaryz steadily increased their advantage as the game progressed. Kyoto had built a 17-11 lead by the end of the first quarter, then took a 36-25 cushion into halftime.
By the end of three quarters, the rout was on as Takamatsu faced a 61-40 deficit. The Hannaryz rang up 32 fourth-quarter points.
“I thought we came to play both days,” Kyoto power forward Reggie Warren, a three-time Best Five Team selection, told The Japan Times. “We started with defense and finished the game with defense.
“We shot the ball well yesterday and today wasn’t a good (3-point) shooting day, but we relied on our defense to get the win,” he added.
Kyoto’s Kevin Kotzur notched a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Ryan Forehan-Kelly matched Kotzur’s scoring total and contributed six rebounds and four assists, while Warren added 16 points and seven boards. Sunao Murakami and Shun Watanuki had eight points apiece for the hosts. Takuya Komoda shared the team lead in assists (four).
The Hannaryz played an efficient, heady game. They converted 58.7 percent of their 2-point shots, but just 8 of 30. They had 16 assists and four turnovers.
Masaaki Suzuki led Takamatsu (17-37, including the playoffs) with a season-best 16 points, B.J. Puckett had 12 points and eight rebounds and Dexter Lyons finished with 11 points.
The Five Arrows shot 33.3 percent from the floor (20-for-60).
“We just wanted to take their confidence early and not let them build any throughout the game,” Warren said of the Five Arrows.