Kejuan Johnson was repeatedly sent to the free-throw line in Thursday’s series opener.
The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix star capitalized on those opportunities. The 2014-15 regular-season MVP sank 15 of 17 free throws and scored a game-high 24 points, leading the defending champions to a 90-74 road win over the Rizing Fukuoka in the bj-league.
Johnson, a Long Beach State alum, handed out a team-best six assists for Hamamatsu (28-13), which outscored the hosts 28-15 in the fourth quarter in Fukuoka.
Reggie Warren and Atsuya Ota each had 14 points for the Phoenix and DeAngelo Kirkland poured in 13.
For the Rizing (14-29), Donnavan Kirk scored 20 points and Cohey Aoki had 12.