Basketball / BJ-League

Hamamatsu overwhelms Nara for ninth straight victory

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix drained 19 3-pointers in a runaway 109-63 triumph over the Bambitious Nara on Monday afternoon in the bj-league.

The Western Conference-leading Phoenix (13-3 overall, 8-2 at home) led 25-10 after one quarter and 51-26 at halftime, and were never seriously challenged. They extended their winning streak to nine games.

Hamamatsu’s Terrance Woodbury sank a team-best four 3s and led the club with 26 points and dished out six assists. Star forward Reggie Warren added 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Toshifumi Kawamitsu and newcomer Kejuan Johnson had 11 and 10 points, respectively, in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture.

The Phoenix chalked up 26 assists against nine turnovers.

Josh Ritchart scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for Nara (4-12 overall, 2-6 on the road). Tatsuya Suzuki and Makoto Higuchi each scored 10 points.

The Bambitious have dropped four consecutive games.

After the game, Warren analyzed the team’s play in its first 16 games.”Man, I think we have been doing a good job on the defensive end of the floor,” the University of West Florida product told The Japan Times on Monday. “I think that’s the key to this streak we are on, and I think ultimately that’s what’s going to keep us going in the future.”

He added: “For instance, in Sunday’s game we shot the ball really, really bad — maybe the worst all season — but our defense allowed us to come away with the win. I knew since we shot the ball so poorly yesterday that we would come out and have a better shooting performance today. But I wanted to make sure we still focused up on our defensive effort.”

The result?

“We put together a great game on both ends today,” Warren said.

Asked how Johnson changes the makeup of the team’s roster and what it can accomplish on the court, Warren said he fully embraces the talented veteran’s skill set and views his addition as a positive.”We have been struggling a bit with injuries at the point guard spot,” Warren noted, “so hopefully KJ can come in and give our guys time to recover and get better.

“I think he can be key at getting in the lane and causing a problem for our opponents. Should take a little pressure off myself for having to be a playmaker and I can go back to being more of a finisher.”

Johnson, the 2014-15 regular-season MVP with the Sendai 89ers, was released last week by the Shiga Lakestars.

The Phoenix have now played nearly one-third of their games, giving Warren a chance to see how bench boss Tomoya “Coach Crusher” Higashino runs the team.

His perspective?

“I think Coach Crusher does a great job of preparing us for our opponents each and every weekend,” Warren said. “He also allows us to each have a voice and help figure things out together. He also holds each and every player accountable for their mistakes. And he’s got a passion to win each and every time we step out on the court.”