After an 0-5 start, the Hiroshima Lightning achieved team history on Saturday, beating the visiting Takamatsu Five Arrows 95-79 for the franchise’s first victory as a bj-league team.
Andre Murray, a Portland State alum, had 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting and Lightning teammate Gijo Bain had a 22-point, 11-rebound performance.
Hiroshima, a first-year expansion team, led 30-23 after the opening quarter and took a 75-61 advantage into the final period.
Other double-digit scorers for the Lightning included shooting guard Shuji Takei (12 points), forward Adam Herman (11) and point guard Ayumu Osawa (10).
Bain and Keishiro Tsutsumi each dished out four assists for the hosts, who shot 56.4 percent from 2-point range.
After the game, Hiroshima coach Joe Navarro expressed his thoughts on the team’s first victory, calling it “a special day today.”
“First of all, I would like to thank everyone that’s rooting for the Hiroshima Lightning,” Navarro told reporters, according to a league-issued statement. “The Lightning had an historic win today. . . . One (win) by one win in the future, we want to continue to improve.”
Lightning players shared the same joy as their coach.
Just ask Herman.
“It was great to get that first win as a team,” Herman told The Japan Times. “This is a very good league so we knew it was going to be tough being a new team. We had contributions from everyone and each of us knew our job and what we had to do to help the team win. Overall it was a great team win.”
Nino Johnson and Masaaki Suzuki had 22 points apiece for Takamastu (4-2). Johnson also hauled in a game-high 18 rebounds. Masamune Tate canned 5 of 6 3-pointers in a 15-point effort off the bench.
Firebonds 95, Crane Thunders 87 (OT)
In Inawashiro, Fukushima Prefecture, rising star Le’Bryan Nash’s rookie season produced another stunning performance, the gifted forward scoring 47 points, including 17 of 20 from inside the arc, in the hosts’ overtime triumph over Gunma.
All told, Nash, a 23-year-old Oklahoma State product, was 18-for-26 from the field and 10 of 17 at the free-throw line in 38-plus minutes of court time. He grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out three assists. This season, he’s averaging a league-high 36.0 points per game.
Stephan Van Treese had 13 points and Shota Kanno poured in 11 points for the Firebonds (4-1). Masaya Karimata chipped in with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Patrick Sullivan and Michael St. John both scored 22 points for the Crane Thunders (3-2), while Masanobu Ito had 10.
Brave Warriors 83, Broncos 42
In Saitama, Shinshu overwhelmed the hosts, taking a 16-4 lead into the second quarter en route to a runaway win.
After three quarters, the Broncos (0-5) trailed 62-31.
Saitama was 2-for-25 from 3-point range.
Jaye Crockett paced the Brave Warriors with 20 points and grabbed 12 boards, Yosuke Saito added 14 points and Dai Suzuki and former NBA center Marcus Cousin both had 12. Mike Bell supplied nine points, 15 rebounds and five blocks on the night.
Du’Vaughn Maxwell was the Broncos’ high scorer (12 points).
B-Corsairs 85, Cinq Reves 65
In Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, balanced scoring and strong rebounding sparked Yokohama to a series-opening win over Kanto rival Tokyo.
B-Corsairs newcomer Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, a Kansas State alum, had team-high totals in points (17) and rebounds (12) and swatted six shots in the rout. Yosuke Maeda had 16 points, including four 3s, and newcomer Cory Johnson scored 13 points. Longtime Yokohama standout Masayuki Kabaya added 11 points and five assists.
The B-Corsairs (3-3) out-rebounded the Cinq Reves 50-38, including Emanuel Willis’ 10 boards.
Tokyo post player John Florveus had 15 points and 13 rebounds and frontcourt mate Hadji Ndieguene finished with 10 points and 16 boards for the Cinq Reves (0-6), who were held to 29.5 percent shooting (13-for-44) from 2-point range.
Phoenix 75, Samuraiz 52
In Kosai, Shizuoka Prefecture, sharpshooter Terrance Woodbury’s 19-point night and Reggie Warren’s 14-point, 18-rebound effort keyed the defending champions’ victory over Kanazawa.
Addison Spruill chipped in with 12 points for Hamamatsu (3-2), while Shinnosuke Oishi added nine.
Marshall Brown paced the Samuraiz (1-4), a first-year franchise, with 14 points and Andrew Fitzgerald scored 12.
Evessa 74, Susanoo Magic 60
In Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, Olu Ashaolu’s double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds) and frequent trips to the free-throw line helped the hosts hand Shimane its first loss of the young season.
Lawrence “Trend” Blackledge finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a spirited performance for the Evessa (3-2), who outscored the Susanoo Magic 22-8 in the fourth quarter.
Shota Konno, Narito Namizato and Takuya Soma all had eight points for Osaka. Namizato also collected four steals.
The Evessa finished with 34 free-throw attempts (24 makes); Shimane was 3-for-7.
Scootie Randall paced the Susanoo Magic (4-1) with 23 points and 14 rebounds and Jun Abe scored 12 points. Josh Davis added eight points and 13 rebounds.
First-year Osaka coach Dai Oketani, who won a pair of titles while leading the Ryukyu Golden Kings (2008-09 and 2011-12) before his next coaching stop with the Iwate Big Bulls (2012-15), admitted the Evessa are a work in progress.
“Now, we are getting to know each other,” Oketani told The Japan Times in a post-game interview on Saturday night. “We need to take more time but we are getting tight.
“Today, our shooting wasn’t good, but players tried to hustle and play defense. Strong teams know how to find a way to win. We are learning as this team now.”
Rizing 67, Lakestars 66
In Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, league icon Cohey Aoki had a team-high 12 points and Bingo Merriex provided 11 points, 18 rebounds and five assists as the Rizing salvaged a series split with Shiga.
Fukuoka (3-3) jumped out to a 25-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
For the Lakestars (4-2), Kejuan Johnson had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Yu Okada scored 15 points. Jeff Parmer had 12 points in the series finale.
Golden Kings 85, Bambitious 70
In Okinawa City, Ryukyu guard and fan favorite Shigeyuki Kinjo, a Golden King since the team’s inception in 2007, had a team-high 17 points and Draelon Burns scored 15 and doled out five assists in a clinical victory over Nara.
Evan Ravenel added 12 points and 14 rebounds, while Ryuichi Kishimoto poured in 11 points for Ryukyu (4-1).
Josh Ritchert led the Bambitious (0-5) with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Wat’s 94, Grouses 76
In Aomori, after a bye week, the hosts played a strong all-around game against Toyama en route to their first victory of the season, giving Nobunaga Sato his first win as their head coach.
Nile Murry set the tone for Aomori (1-2) with 24 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. Big man Paul Williams added 20 points and nine boards and Jesse Perry had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wat’s sank 11 of 22 3s, with Murry, Perry and Daichi Shimoyama all knocking down three apiece.
Grouses veteran Masashi Joho finished with 21 points and Duke Crews had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Sam Willard scored 11 points for Toyama (2-3).
Albirex BB 70, Big Bulls 59
In Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Charles Hinkle buried five 3-pointers in a 24-point outburst and Faye Pape Mour had 17 points, nine boards and four blocks, leading Niigata past the Big Bulls.
Kimitake Sato added 12 points for the Albirex (5-0), who are tied with the Sendai 89ers for the 12-team Eastern Conference’s best record. Ryan Reid grabbed 13 points for the visitors.
For Iwate (3-2), big man Abdullahi Kuso was the team’s lone double-digit scorer (11 points) and pulled down 12 rebounds. Jasper Johnson added nine points.
89ers 94, Northern Happinets 78
In Yurihonjo, Akita Prefecture, the high-powered Sendai offense flourished in the series opener in an impressive victory over the 89ers’ Tohoku rival.
Former league MVP Wendell White had 27 points and 15 rebounds, Jamal Boykin scored 25 with 10 boards and six assists and swingman Masaharu Kataoka added 23 points. The three veterans shot a combined 25-for-37 from inside the arc. Point guard Takehiko Shimura added 10 points and four steal for Sendai (5-0).
Fueled by the aforementioned quartet, the 89ers converted 55.6 percent of their shots from 2-point range. The aggressive out-of-towners also won the battle on the boards (52-39 rebounding edge).
Ray Turner, who had a 21-point game, and Richard Roby, who put 20 on the board were the top scorers for Akita (3-2).
After the game, Roby dished out this insight to The Japan Times as he looked ahead to Sunday’s rematch: “We have to keep them off the offensive glass (and play) better team defense.
“We have to turn things around and fight to get the split. Sendai executed their offense well and pressured our wings very well.”