Players nearly half his age are beginning their professional careers, and high-energy guard Masahiro Oguchi continues to make his mark for the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix and defy the odds. He remains a textbook example of gutsy play and the importance of veteran smarts for a team’s success.

The latest example: Oguchi, who turned 40 on Jan. 6, started in the backcourt, scored 14 points, knocked down 3 of 5 3-pointers, and went 3-for-3 at the foul line, grabbed four rebounds and made one steal in the Phoenix’s 79-74 road victory on Saturday over the Takamatsu Five Arrows.

Oguchi, the bj-league’s oldest player, also picked up three fouls. It’s a reminder of his relentless, feisty defense, tone-setting traits that have helped Hamamatsu improve to 32-15 by winning the series opener.

He starred on all three of Hamamatsu’s title-winning squads, and every Phoenix coach has spoken highly of his professionalism during the team’s illustrious history since joining the bj-league in 2008.

Hamamatsu wasn’t a one-man show on Saturday. Reggie Warren paced the club with 15 points and hauled in 10 rebounds — expected production for one of the league’s most enduring stars. Kejuan Johnson chipped in with 12 points, 12 boards and eight assists and DeAngelo Kirkland scored 10 points.

The Phoenix secured the victory in the fourth quarter, outscoring Takamatsu (11-36) by a 22-12 margin.

Jarvis Williams led the Five Arrows with 20 points and added nine boards and five assists. Tsubasa Yonezawa had a 17-point effort.

Big Bulls 114, Cinq Reves 66

In Machida, Iwate jumped out to a 61-28 advantage by halftime and handed the hapless hosts their 39th consecutive loss.

Seven Big Bulls players scored in double figures, including Patrick Sanders (20 points), Alandise Harris (18) and Shota Onodera (15).

Iwate (28-20) shot 69.8 percent from 2-point range.

John Florveus paced Tokyo (1-45) with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Du’Vaughn Maxwell added 10 points.

The Big Bulls made 15 steals. The Cinq Reves had 20 turnovers.

Hannaryz 80, Samuraiz 75

In Fukuchiyama, Kyoto Prefecture, coach Honoo Hamaguchi’s team did an impressive job taking care of the ball en route to a series-opening victory over Kanazawa.

Kevin Kotzur finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Hannaryz (36-11) and Koki Yabuuchi poured in 15 points with six assists and four steals. Moses Ehambe had 14 points and Tyren Johnson chipped in with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in an impressive all-around effort.

Kyoto chalked up 20 assists against nine turnovers.

For the Samuraiz (26-21), Gyno Pomare had 21 points on 9-for-18 shooting, pulled down seven rebounds and swatted four shots. Marshall Brown and Andrew Fitzgerald scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, while Yuji Ide added 10.

Golden Kings 107, Lightning 66

In Okinawa City, Evan Ravenel’s double-double (23 points, 20 rebounds) and Draelon Burns’ 20 points in just over 15 minutes sparked Ryukyu in a rout of Hiroshima.

The Golden Kings (37-10) led 58-35 at halftime and 88-51 entering the fourth quarter en route to their 14th consecutive triumph.

Ryuichi Kishimoto finished with 16 points and Shigeyuki Kinjo and Shuhei Kitagawa each scored 12 for the hosts.

The Lightning losing streak reached 39 games in the rout.

Ayumu Osawa had 14 points for Hiroshima (1-44).

Albirex BB 87, Brave Warriors 59

In Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, second-quarter domination fueled Niigata’s win over Shinshu.

The Albirex erupted for 27 second-quarter points to seize control of the game, while holding the Brave Warriors to nine points in that span.

Wayne Arnold ignited Niigata (31-16) with 27 points and Ryan Reid had 24 points and 19 rebounds. Kimitake Sato poured in 19 points, canning 5 of 8 3-pointers, and Faye Pape Mour chipped in with six points, 14 rebounds and assists.

Xavier Gibson led Shinshu (23-24) with 20 points, but shot 8-for-19 from the field. Frontcourt mate Mike Bell added 15 points and 17 boards.

Wat’s 102, Firebonds 93

In Aomori, the hosts lit up the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, scoring 42 points in the frantic 10 final minutes to prevail against Tohoku rival Fukushima.

Jesse Perry, a former University of Arizona player, paced the Wat’s (21-26) with 33 points. He buried 3 of 4 3-pointers and went 6-for-6 at the foul line.

Nile Murry had 30 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks for Aomori. He drained 4 of 5 3s on a night when a team needed his offensive fireworks against the Firebonds.

Makoto Sawaguchi dished out five assists for the hosts.

Le’Bryan Nash scored 37 points with nine boards and six assists for Fukushima (28-19). Masaya Karimata had a 17-point effort.

The Firebonds struggled at the free-throw line (10-for-17) in a game that was decided in the fourth quarter.

89ers 88, Crane Thunders 77

In Sendai, three 89ers frontcourt players had double-doubles and Takehiko Shimura dished out eight assists to guide the team past Gunma.

Wendell White finished with 34 points and 13 rebounds and Jamal Boykin followed with 20 points and 10 boards. Terrance Shannon contributed 10 points and 10 boards. Swingman Masaharu Kataoka also scored 10 points for Sendai (34-13).

Thomas Kennedy had a 29-point, 10-rebound performance for the Crane Thunders (21-26) and Michael St. John provided 14 points and 11 boards. Masashi Obuchi and Gary Hamilton each had 10 points in the loss.

Grouses 99, Broncos 70

In Toyama, six Grouses players reached double figures in points in a runaway victory over Saitama.

Masashi Joho was Toyama’s high scorer with 19 points and doled out seven assists. Drew Viney added 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting and Takeshi Mito scored 15 for the Grouses (34-13). Sam Willard had 11 points and a team-best 14 rebounds along with five assists.

Seth Tarver scored 20 points for the Broncos (4-43) and Edward Morris had 18.

Northern Happinets 90, B-Corsairs 56

In Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Akita held the hosts to 0-for-14 shooting from 3-point range and cruised to victory in the series opener.

The pesky Northern Happinets defense forced 20 turnovers and racked up 14 steals in the rout, with four Akita players collecting two or more takeaways, including Richard Roby and Ray Turner with three apiece.

Yuto Otsuka paced the Happinets (32-15) with 17 points, Turner scored 15 and Scott Morrison and Kenichi Takahashi both had 14. Akitomo Takeno handed out six assists.

Jordan Henriquez-Roberts led Yokohama (18-29) with 18 points and Carl Hall had 15 with 10 rebounds.

Lakestars 66, Evessa 61

In Higashiomi, Shiga Prefecture, balanced scoring propelled the Lakestars past Kansai foe Osaka.

Yu Okada and Julian Mavunga both had 14 points, Jeff Parmer scored 13, Ryota Kobayashi added 11 and Jamelle Horne had 10 for the Lakestars (31-16).

Mavunga had team-high totals in rebounds (12) and assists (five) for Shiga.

The Evessa (32-15) missed 15 of their 16 3-point attempts and shot 12-for-20 at the charity stripe. Lawrence “Trend” Blackledge led Osaka with 18 points and 16 rebounds. DeAngelo Hamilton scored 11 points and Shun Watanuki had 10 points.

Rizing 115, HeatDevils 101

In Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Donnavan Kirk had 28 points and 15 rebounds and Cohey Aoki scored 16 points as the Rizing downed Oita Ehime.

Josh Peppers and Josei Maniwa supplied 14 points apiece for Fukuoka (17-30).

For the HeatDevils (15-32), Chehales Tapscott finished with 29 points and 10 boards, while Tatsuhiko Toshino scored 28 points.

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