Since his arrival in Toyama for the start of the 2011-12 season, Masashi Joho, aka the consummate competitor, has been as fiercely determined to win as any player in the bj-league.
What’s more, he changed the course of franchise history when he first donned a Grouses uniform, helping transforming a moribund club into a perennial playoff outfit.
Joho, the league’s 2013-14 regular-season MVP, who happens to share the same English initials as a pair of all-time greats (Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, for those who may be uncertain), lived up to his stellar reputation in the series finale on Sunday against the host Aomori Wat’s. The veteran guard scored a game-high 22 points, knocking down four big 3-pointers, with four assists and two steals for good measure in Toyama’s 92-69 bounce-back victory over Aomori.
Duke Crews scored 16 points and steady Sam Willard had 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as the Grouses improved to 3-3 on the season.
The Wat’s (1-3) had 20 turnovers in the series finale.
Nile Murry had 16 points and Paul Williams and Jesse Perry both scored 10 for Aomori.
Evessa 69, Susanoo Magic 63
In Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, the hosts outscored Shimane 22-9 in the second quarter to seize control of the game en route to their second victory in as many days.
The Evessa (4-2) have won four straight contests.
Osaka limited the visitors to 12-for-43 shooting from 2-point range.
For the hosts, Takuya Soma had 16 points and Lawrence Blackledge chipped in with 13 points, nine boards, seven assists, four blocks and two steals. Olu Ashaolu added 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Scootie Randall paced Shimane (4-2) with 26 points and Josh Davis had 15 points and 17 rebounds, while Edward Yamamoto scored 12 points.
Brave Warriors 83, Broncos 68
In Saitama, six Shinshu players scored in double figures as the Brave Warriors pounded the hapless Broncos.
Ex-NBA center Marcus Cousin led the charge with 18 points and 14 boards. Jaye Crockett and Yosuke Saito both finished with 13 points and Mike Bell supplied 11 points, four blocks and four steals for Shinshu (2-2).
Mitsuhiro Yamezaki scored 20 points for Saitama (0-6).
According to Bell, defense keyed the victory for Shinshu, he told The Japan Times.
“I think that we are figuring each other out more and more every day as a team,” Bell said. “The offense will eventually come, but defense is mostly effort and as a team we are trying to make that our starting point.
“We are getting better every day, but definitely have a lot of work to do in order to get anywhere near the potential we possess.”
89ers 86, Northern Happinets 80
In Yurihonjo, Akita Prefecture, Sendai’s trio of Jamal Boykin, Wendell White and Masaharu Kataoka had the hosts’ number again, giving the visitors a two-game sweep and keeping their unbeaten record intact.
Boykin had 20 points, 10 boards and eight assists for Sendai (6-0), Kataoka netted 16 points and White poured in 14 points. Floor leader Takehiko Shimura orchestrated the high-octane offense with six assists.
Firebonds 77, Crane Thunders 63
In Inawashiro, Fukushima Prefecture, Le’Bryan Nash and Masaya Karimata scored 17 points apiece and Stephan Van Treese had 11 as the Firebonds rolled to their fifth straight game.
A day after scoring 47 points, Nash, a rising star in the bj-league, grabbed eight rebounds with a steal and a blocked shot for Fukushima (5-1).
Gunma (3-3) out-rebounded the hosts 60-39, but had a poor shooting afternoon (27-for-76 from the floor). Thomas Kennedy and Hirotaka Kondo scored 12 points apiece, with Michael St. John grabbing 21 rebounds in defeat.
Phoenix 71, Samuraiz 63
In Kosai, Shizuoka Prefecture, Terrance Woodbury sank 10 of 11 free throws and dropped 25 points on Kanazawa, securing the defending champions’ series sweep.
Shinnosuke Oishi supplied 14 points and star forward Reggie Warren contributed nine points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks for Hamamatsu (4-2).
Yuji Ide led the Samuraiz (1-5) with 14 points and Andrew Fitzgerald scored 12.
Albirex BB 84, Big Bulls 73
In Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Niigata’s perimeter marksmen grabbed the spotlight, igniting the Albirex’s victory over the Big Bulls.
Niigata (6-0) sank 12 of 26 3s, including four by Shuhei Komatsu, who had 14 points. Kimitake Sato finished with 16 points, Charles Hinkle poured in 15 and Faye Pape Mour scored 11 with 12 rebounds.
“Today was a good win,” Hinkle told The Japan Times. “Our role players really stepped up and shot the ball well. And we just want to win whatever it takes. We are just focusing on playing hard defensively and playing together.”
Tatsunori Fujie had 17 points and Abdullahi Kuso ended up with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Iwate (3-3), while Alandise Harris scored 14 points.
Golden Kings 75, Bambitious 64
In Okinawa City, forward Shuhei Kitagawa had a team-high 15 points and Anthony McHenry scored 11 to help propel the hosts past Nara.
Draelon Burns, Ryuichi Kishimoto and Evan Ravenel all had 10 points for the Golden Kings (5-1).
Tatsuya Suzuki paced the Bambitious (0-6) with 16 points.
Hannaryz 109, HeatDevils 66
In Oita, Kyoto (3-2) trounced the hosts in the opener of a rare Sunday-Monday series.
Oita fell to 1-4.
Game statistics were unavailable at press time.
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