In a showdown of East Division squads on Friday, the Alvark Tokyo’s deep bench and overall talent played key roles as they prevailed over the Levanga Hokkaido in the B. League series opener.
Shooting guard Diante Garrett led Tokyo with a dynamic, high-energy, all-around performance, scoring a game-high 22 points, including 9-for-9 at the free-throw line, in the hosts’ 82-73 triumph. The Iowa State alum added five rebounds, six assists and seven steals in 29-plus minutes.
Garrett, who appeared in 90 combined games during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 NBA seasons for the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz, led all players in free-throw attempts, assists and steals as Tokyo (18-4) finished strong.
The Alvark led 21-12 after the opening quarter and 35-31 at halftime. The score was knotted at 53-53 entering the fourth quarter.Forward Zack Baranski, who’s averaging 9.1 points in 22 games, contributed 20 points for Tokyo, knocking down 4 of 7 3-pointers, while Daiki Tanaka had eight points with four assists, with Taishi Ito matching Tanaka’s scoring output. Shohei Kikuchi and Troy Gillenwater chipped in with seven points apiece. Joji Takeuchi made two blocks.
For Hokkaido (6-18), Takehiko Orimo had a team-best 14 points. Asahi Tajima finished with 12 points and four assists and Takanobu Nishikawa poured in 10.
The Levanga were whistled for 23 fouls, sending Tokyo to the line for 28 shots (the Alvark sank 21 of them). Conversely, Hokkaido was 9-for-12 at the charity stripe.
Second-division update: The Ehime Orange Vikings cruised past the visiting Shinshu Brave Warriors on Friday night, winning 88-72.
Yoshihiko Toshino paced Ehime (9-14) with 20 points. Craig Williams Jr. added 16 points and Lawrence “Trend” Blackledge chipped in with 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
For Shinshu (6-17), Yasuhiko Wada had 21 points and Terrance Shannon contributed 12 points and 21 boards.
In the paint: Basketball runs deep in Garrett’s roots. His father Dick Garrett, a guard drafted in the second round (27th overall pick) out of Southern Illinois University, played in the NBA from 1969-74 for the Los Angeles Lakers, Buffalo Braves, New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. During his lone season (1969-70) playing for the Lakers, Garrett was chosen for the NBA All-Rookie Team, scoring 11.6 ppg. He averaged a career-best 12.9 ppg the next season for Buffalo.