Basketball / BJ-League

Murry named MVP after fourth-quarter heroics

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix guard Nile Murry carried his team in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s bj-league championship game.

The Texas Christian University alum sparked the Phoenix, but not without the vital passing from teammate Mo Charlo, who doled out five assists in the final quarter.

Murry scored 14 of his 16 points in the final period in the Phoenix’s 71-69 victory over the Akita Northern Happinets.

He was named the playoff MVP.

“It’s a great feeling to be a champion,” Murry said.

“I’m going to celebrate with my teammates and my family and just enjoy the moment,” the 32-year-old floor leader said.

Murry’s playoff heroics were not limited to Sunday’s late outburst. He drained a buzzer-beating jumper against the Ryukyu Golden Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series two weeks ago.

He scored 17 points and made 5 of 7 3s in the Phoenix’s 82-77 victory over the Shiga Lakestars in Saturday’s Western Conference final.

But entering the fourth quarter in the title game, Murry was 0-for-4 from 3-point range with only two points.

And then he got hot when his team need a spark.

Murry was 4-for-5 from inside the arc and drained 2 of 3 3s while playing all 10 minutes in the final stanza.

Teammates recognized he had the hot hand and wisely kept feeding him the ball.

“We did a good job, but we were struggling a bit to get in the (offensive) rhythm,” admitted Murry, who played on past playoff teams with the Osaka Evessa (2008-09, 2009-10), Rizing Fukuoka (2010-11) and Niigata Albirex BB (2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14).

Now a first-time bj-league title winner, Murry basked in the glow of a few dozen reporters and several TV cameras.

“To take the championship and MVP of the game is great,” Murry said.

With Deshawn Stephens and Richard Roby carrying the Akita offense — they scored a combined 48 points — Murry’s turnaround in the fourth quarter was impressive.

After a Stephens jam gave Akita a 63-60 lead with about 3 minute left, Murry temporarily silenced the Happinets faithful with a big 3 from the left wing, a step-back jumper to tie it up and set the stage for his teammates’ heroics moments later.

With the title wrapped up, Murry gave credit to the team’s front office.

“I just thought the organization put together a great team,” Murry concluded, pointing to a rebuilt roster that features fellow newcomers Charlo and Olu Ashaolu and Jermaine Green, who’s in his second stint with the club, along with mainstays Masahiro Oguchi, Shinnosuke Oishi and Atsuya Ota, among others.