Desire fueled the Kyoto Hannaryz’s bounce-back win over the Sunrockers Shibuya on Sunday.
For Kyoto, this fierce determination produced more points, more rebounds and more big plays at both ends of the court in the Hannaryz’s feisty 79-75 decision over the Sunrockers at Aoyama Gakuin University Memorial Hall
The result was hardly surprising, according to Sunrockers coach BT Toews.
“It was obviously a bad start, especially defensively,” Toews told reporters later, assessing his team’s play. “We have had decent starts lately, so I was a little surprised at the slowness of our defensive rotations.”
A day earlier, Shibuya had more 2-point shot attempts, more 3-point shots, more offensive rebounds, more defensive rebounds, more steals and fewer turnovers in a 75-66 triumph. The Sunrockers (19-20) had eight players with at least one steal in the series opener.
But the Hannaryz (20-21) flipped the script in their rematch. They led 39-27 at halftime, closing out the second quarter on a 17-4 spurt.
Lawrence Hill initiated the big run with a fast-break dunk to pull Kyoto within 24-23. What followed was an unusual sequence: back-to-back-to-back basket-and-one opportunities for the Hannaryz. Hill had a layup and sank a free throw to star it. Koki Yabuuchi converted a difficult reverse layup and drained a foul shot. Hayato Kawashima scored on another layup, then knocked down his free throw to put Kyoto in front 33-25 with 1:42 before halftime. Seconds later, Kawashima added a tip-in after Sunao Murakami missed a layup, stretching the lead to 10 points.
Shibuya trailed for most of the second half, but tied it at 46-46 on a Taishiro Shimizu 3-pointer from the left wing with about 2:10 to play in the third quarter. Moments later, Yuki Mitsuhara buried a baseline jumper to put his team ahead 48-46.
Kyoto led 51-50 after three quarters. Kevin Kotzur, heating up offensively at the opportune time for his club, snatched a high lob from Murakami and scored a layup for 53-50 Hannaryz lead.
The Sunrockers responded with a 9-0 spurt with layups, free throws and a Leo Vendrame 3-pointer fueling the run.
But moments later, the 202-cm Kotzur took over. On back-to-back trips down the floor, he made inside shots, one with his left hand, another with his right.
And after a Marcus Dove bucket, Kotzur’s offensive rebound and putback gave the visitors a 63-61 lead with 3:45 to go.
Kotzur made a nice pass to Dove on a back-door cut that produced the latter’s layup and a 70-62 Kyoto advantage that slipped away.
Kyoto coach Honoo Hamaguchi, in his sixth season at the helm, summed up his team’s performance by saying “fierce defense” in key stretches was a key.
Toews acknowledged that he believed his players would expect Kyoto to “come out hard from the beginning.”
“I don’t think that’s the problem,” he added. “The problem was our rotation on our pick (-and-roll) defense, on our side pick defense was slow, and usually when it’s fast, we are very good on side picks.”
Shibuya’s defensive shortcomings contributed to Kyoto’s 63 percent shooting (29-for-46) from 2-point range. Kotzur made 10 of 13 shots in a 21-point, nine-rebound performance and Dove scored 14 points, converting 7 of 9 shots and also making a team-high three steals. Kawashima’s poise at the free-throw line (8 of 9) highlighted his 14-point outing for the Hannaryz, who outscored Shibuya 48-30 in the paint and 16-7 on second-chance points.
“It’s a good feeling,” Dove said, illuminating the overall mood of his team 30 minutes after its win.
“It’s important. We felt like we let the first game slip away, kind of like we had it and then we gave it to them, so it was important for us to come back and fight even harder and get the win today.”
The Sunrockers had five double-digit scorers in Yuki Mitsuhara (14 points), Robert Sacre (13), Takashi Ito (12, seven assists) and Vendrame and Kenta Hirose (11 apiece), but their offense was stagnant at times and inconsistent.
Kotzur scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory for Kyoto.
In the fourth quarter, when both teams deployed two import players on the court, Toews said missed defensive assignments on Dove, who had eight points in the period, and Kotzur was a key factor in Shibuya’s defeat.
“I think both of those guys just destroyed us in the paint,” Toews said.
Despite a 27-point first half, Shibuya recovered offensive by putting 58 points on the board over the final 20 minutes.
It wasn’t enough.
“The bad news is we just let our defense fall apart,” Toews said.
Dove noted in a post-game interview that one of the team’s pillars is interior offense. He explained it this way: “Getting the ball inside, not even really to score, but kind of playing off of that, maybe guys cutting and moving around in the post.”
Hannaryz guard Yusuke Okada said “defensive patience” helped produce steals for his club. He cited aggressive play as a catalyst for his team’s offense, too.
Kawashima said he and his teammates were hungry to avenge’s Saturday’s loss, calling the series’ second game “a good chance” to pull out a win.
While the Sunrockers made numerous defensive switches, Kawashima pointed out that basic plays were the bread-and-butter approach that Kyoto countered with, e.g. “simple passes.”
Reflecting on his team’s failed comeback attempt late in the game, Mitsuhara said better rebounding and retrieval of loose balls are things the Sunrockers can focus on improving.
The Hannaryz held a slight edge in overall rebounds (35-31).
Kyoto stretched its aforementioned advantage to 76-66 on a pair of Kawashima free throws with 25 seconds remaining.
Shibuya stayed aggressive on the perimeter, firing up quick shots.
The Hannaryz allowed three late 3-pointers in the final minute, with Vendrame making a pair of shots and Mitsuhara’s late dagger cutting the Kyoto advantage to 78-75 with 2 seconds left.
The Sunrockers quickly followed Kotzur to stop the clock.
Kotzur sank the first of two free throws with 1 second left, then purposely missed the second one. RT Guinn grabbed the defensive rebound, but Shibuya ran out of time to pull off an improbable comeback.
NeoPhoenix 102, Diamond Dolphins 98 (2OT)
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, San-en outlasted Nagoya in double overtime in an epic contest that included 97 rebounds and 60 foul shots.
Robert Dozier scored 35 points and Josh Childress poured in 32 and grabbed 11 rebounds as the NeoPhoenix (25-16) completed a series sweep.
Childress scored 34 points in the series opener.
NeoPhoenix guard Shingo Okada, meanwhile, chipped in with 11 points in the finale, and Tatsuya Suzuki provided eight points and seven assists.
San-en outrebounded the visitors 53-44.
Jerome Tillman had 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Diamond Dolphins (21-20) and Tenketsu Harimoto scored 25 points. David Weaver added 16 points and Takaya Sasayama added 12 points and nine boards.
San-en missed 19 of 22 3-point shots.
Brex 102, Grouses 76
In Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture, the hosts raced out to a 19-point lead after one quarter and avenged their series-opening defeat.
Guard Yusuke Endo sparked Tochigi (31-8) with 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range. Teammate Jeff Gibbs finished with 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Ryan Rossiter added 12 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Takatoshi Furukawa poured in 12 points and Kosuke Takeuchi had 11.
Toyama (9-32) turned the ball over 20 times.
Drew Viney paced the Grouses with 22 points and corralled seven rebounds. Naoki Uto scored 14 points, Masashi Joho had 12 and Dexter Pittman 10.
Lakestars 87, Alvark 85
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, veteran guard Narito Namizato sank two free throws with 3 seconds remaining to help lead the hosts to a bounce-back victory over Tokyo.
Alvark guard Diante Garrett missed a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer.
Namizato scored 14 points and dished out nine assists for Shiga (10-31).
Julian Mavunga canned 7 of 10 3s in an impressive 27-point performance for the Lakestars. Yusuke Karino contributed 14 points, knocking down 4 of 6 3s.
Shiga ended the game 15 of 33 from beyond the arc.
Garrett had 20 points and eight assists for Tokyo (30-9). Joji Takeuchi chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds, Shohei Kikuchi also had 14 points and hauled in eight rebounds.
SeaHorses 81, Northern Happinets 79
In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Makoto Hiejima stepped to the free-throw line with 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter, then calmly converted two shots to account for the game’s final points as title-chasing Mikawa completed a two-game sweep over Akita.
Hiejima had 26 points and four assists for the SeaHorses (30-9). Teammate J.R. Sakuragi supplied 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting and Gavin Edwards scored 14 points. Kosuke Kanamaru added 10 points and inside force Isaac Butts had eight points and 12 boards.
Mikawa held the visitors to 16 fourth-quarter points.
Former Ohio State big man Evan Ravenel had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Northern Happinets (11-30). Shigehiro Taguchi had 15 points, but missed 8 of 10 shots from 3-point range. Ryosuke Shirahama finished with 13 points.
Evessa 71, Albirex BB 60
In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Osaka trailed by 15 points at halftime, then completely dominated the second half to beat the hosts for the second straight day.
The Evessa (21-20) outscored the Albirex 48-22 over the final two stanzas.
Osaka’s Richard Roby had 19 points and nine rebounds, Josh Harrellson supplied 15 points, 11 boards and six blocks and Shota Konno scored 12 points. Hiroyuki Kinoshita added nine points.
Clint Chapman paced Niigata (19-22) with 19 points, but was held to 6-for-19 shooting. Kei Igarashi added 15 points and seven boards.
The hosts shot 16-for-51 (31.4 percent) from 2-point range.
Levanga 85, B-Corsairs 64
In Sapporo, the hosts, fueled by 60.9 percent shooting from inside the arc, pounded Yokohama for the second straight day.
Forward Daisuke Noguchi scored a team-best 17 points, including 7 of 7 from 2-point range, for Hokkaido (14-27). Jordan Bachynski added 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, Takanobu Nishikawa scored 12 points and Takehiko Orimo netted nine.
Jeff Parmer led the B-Corsairs (14-27) with 23 points and nine rebounds. Ken Takeda had 10 points.
Yokohama finished with 17 turnovers and 10 assists.
Jets 80, Golden Kings 71
In Okinawa City, Tyler Stone’s 26-point, 10-rebound effort and Ryumo Ono’s 19 points ignited Chiba in a triumph over the hosts.
The Jets (28-13) also won the series opener.
Ono made all six of his 2-point shots, and his team converted 23 of 37.
In a scrappy performance, Chiba’s Kosuke Ishii finished with eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Michael Park had six points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Reyshawn Terry led Ryukyu (17-24) with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Ryuichi Kishimoto and Shuhei Kitagawa scored 14 and nine points, respectively.
The game was decided at the free-throw line. Ryukyu made 3 of 5; Chiba sank 16 of 22.
Second-division update: Here are the results of Sunday’s B2 games: Ehime Orange Vikings 68, Iwate Big Bulls 67; Fukushima Firebonds 97, Shinshu Brave Warriors 79; Fighting Eagles Nagoya 101, Kagawa Five Arrows 86; Shimane Susanoo Magic 98, Bambitious Nara 51; Hiroshima Dragonflies 85, Earthfriends Tokyo Z 66; Kumamoto Volters 62, Aomori Wat’s 55; and Yamagata Wyverns 67, Kagoshima Rebnise 55.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.