The totality of Diante Garrett’s Sunday performance didn’t measure up to his impressive Saturday statistics.
And even though he struggled at times in the series finale against the Sunrockers Shibuya in a clash of B. League teams at Aoyama Gakuin University Memorial Hall, Garrett made the most important play of the game. The final play.
Garrett drilled a long 2-point jumper over the outstretched arms of 213-cm Sunrockers center Robert Sacre with 1 second remaining. That accounted for the game’s final points in a 66-64 Alvark Tokyo victory before a packed house of 4,662, including his father, Dick Garrett, an NBA guard from 1969-74.
Alvark players immediately congregated around Garrett to celebrate his dramatic clutch shot that earned the team the win.
Garrett torched the Sunrockers in Tokyo’s 95-63 win on Saturday, finishing with game-high totals in points (25) and assists (five).
Shibuya made some defensive adjustments before the Sunday rematch. The Sunrockers did a solid job of making Garrett work for his shot throughout the game. He was held to eight points on 3-for-15 shooting, with five rebounds and five assists.
“It’s a good feeling each time for sure because you’re winning the game for your team,” a smiling Garrett said later, “and hitting the game winner, everybody as a kid growing up you always had that time when you’re counting down in the parking lot or at the park, and you’re just going up and making that shot.
“It was one of those days today,” the former NBA guard added. “It felt good when it left my hand (and) I knocked the shot down.”
Asked about what was going through his mind and the adjustment he made to Sacre’s tight defense, Garrett had this to say: “When I came off the screen, I knew they were going to switch so I kind of just got into one of my packages, moves, and just went for the double crossover, and I’d seen that he went for it and bit on it a little bit, so I went with a stepback (move) and created a little more space and I got the shot off.
“I was kind of saying my head, ‘Please don’t block it.’ But when I saw it online, I was like, ‘That’s good,’ and it went in.”
Before Garrett’s heroics, there were other big plays down the stretch.
Sacre, who had a game-high 21 points along with eight rebounds, tied it up at 64-64 on his patented hook shot with 16.9 seconds remaining. (The Alvark then called a timeout to draw up plans for their final play.)
Before that, Joji Takeuchi had given Tokyo a short-lived 64-62 advantage on and old-fashioned three-point play — a layup and a free throw — with 33 seconds left.
Takeuchi said his team remained patient and confident in its ability to gut out a win even despite its slow start.
He said he’s impressed with Garrett’s scoring skills and big-play capabilities.
“He has experience and he can hit big shots,” Takeuchi said of Garrett.
The Sunrockers (22-23) led 46-45 after three quarters, pulled ahead by three on an Ira Brown turnaround jumper to usher in the final stanza. Takeki Shonaka then canned a 3 courtesy of a long pass by Garrett to tie it at 48-48.
And it was a back-and-forth duel the rest of the way.
Shibuya coach BT Toews called it “a heartbreaking loss.”
“Even with the big butt-kicking that happened yesterday, believe it or not we’re not happy to play well . . . If that was the case, the feeling in the locker room would always be, well, we just hope to get in the playoffs and get a wild card,” Toews told reporters.
“We know in order to get to the finals we need to have to beat a team like this, and we still haven’t done it after two days.”
Daiki Tanaka paced the Alvark (35-10) with 16 points. Takeuchi scored seven of his 10 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed nine rebounds. Keijuro Matsui and Shonaka had eight points apiece and Jeff Ayres and Zack Baranski each put seven points on the board.
Kenta Hirose scored 14 points and made three steals for the Sunrockers. Brown added 13 points, six rebounds, a pair of steals and two blocks, while Takashi Ito scored nine points.
The Sunrockers defense played a hard-nosed game, holding the Alvark to 36.1 percent shooting.
On offense, Shibuya utilized the inside strength of Sacre and Brown to counter the run-and-gun approach by Tokyo at the other end.
Alvark coach Takumi Ito said his team got off to a slow start in the first half, but was pleased with the impact made by Tanaka and others despite the low score.
Shibuya took a 34-26 lead into the locker room at halftime
Though Garrett often faced double teams, Ito noted that Garrett “moves the ball well.”
This, of course, created scoring chances for him and his team, including the big one.
Or as Toews put it: “He had the most important two points in the game, but I thought we did a good job (overall on defense).”
Levanga 93, Albirex BB 89 (OT)
In Asahikawa, Hokkaido, the hosts outlasted Niigata in a rough-and-tumble game that featured 58 free throws to earn a bounce-back victory.
Takanobu Nishikawa, who drained five 3-pointers for the second straight day, scored a team-high 31 points for the Levanga (17-28). Jahmar Thorpe added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Daisuke Noguchi and Daniel Miller both scored 13 points, with Asahi Tajima pouring in 11.
Hokkaido sank 23 of 28 foul shots; Niigata converted 26 of 30.
Davante Gardner led the Albirex (20-25) with 32 points, including 16 of 20 at the free-throw line, and 10 rebounds. Frontcourt mate Clint Chapman had 25 points and nine boards. Kimitake Sato scored nine points and Shunki Hatakeyama provided eight points and four assists.
Evessa 66, B-Corsairs 62
In Osaka, coach Dai Oketani’s squad had a strong fourth quarter after getting outscored 20-5 by Yokohama in the third stanza to secure the victory and salvage a weekend split.
Center Josh Harrellson had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Evessa (22-23) and Takuya Soma buried 5 of 8 3s in a 16-point performance.
Osaka’s Xavier Gibson added 14 points and Hiroyuki Kinoshita chipped in with six points and five assists.
Jeff Parmer led the B-Corsairs (15-30) with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Kazutaka Takashima finished with 10 points and Ken Takeda scored nine.
Hannaryz 79, Jets 68
In Ise, Mie Prefecture, Kyoto’s tenacious, effective defense forced 26 turnovers, helping the Hannaryz avenge a series-opening loss.
Hayato Kawashima, Marcus Dove and Mo Charlo all had three steals for Kyoto (21-24), which shot 63.9 percent from inside the arc.
Dove paced the hosts with 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting. Yusuke Okada, who made 5 of 11 3s, scored 24 points and Kawashima and Charlo had nine apiece.
Big man Hilton Armstrong paced Chiba (31-14) with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Yuki Togashi and Ryumo Ono both had 13 points and eight turnovers. Michael Parker scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
The Jets were limited to 11 assists.
Northern Happinets 99, Diamond Dolphins 96 (OT)
In Nagoya, in a game showcasing hot perimeter shooting by both clubs, Akita outlasted the hosts in overtime to complete a series sweep.
Seiya Ando scored a team-best 24 points for the visitors and Shigehiro Taguchi canned 6 of 9 3s in an electrifying performance for Akita (13-32). Leo Lyons contributed 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Evan Ravenel had 16 points and seven boards.
The Happinets sank 15 of 27 3-pointers; the Diamond Dolphins drained 14 of 26.
Tenketsu Harimoto, who made two free throws with 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 84-84 and send it into OT, led Nagoya (22-23) with 27 points. He buried 6 of 10 3-point attempts.
Jerome Tillman added 20 points and eight rebounds for the hosts, Seiya Funyu scored 17 points and David Weaver supplied 12 points and eight boards.
Brex 82, Lakestars 80
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Tochigi dominated the fourth quarter and defeated the Lakestars for the second time in as many days.
The Brex won the series opener 103-57.
Ryan Rossiter sparked Tochigi (36-9) with 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Takatoshi Furukawa and Jeff Gibbs had 13 and nine points, respectively.
The Brex made only 15 of 27 free throws.
For the Lakestars (10-35), post player Craig Brackins scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Yusuke Karino had a 16-point outing, Narito Namizato provided 15 points and seven assists and turned the ball over eight times. Faye Samba finished with 14 points and Julian Mavunga had 12 and eight boards.
Golden Kings 72, NeoPhoenix 68
In Okinawa City, the hosts controlled the fourth quarter and defeated San-en, extending their winning streak to four games.
Lamont Hamilton supplied 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for Ryukyu (21-24), which outscored the visitors 22-12 in the final period.
Ryuichi Kishimoto also scored 14 points for the Golden Kings. Reyshawn Terry added 13 points and eight boards, Shuhei Kitagawa had 11 points and Shigeyuki Kinjo scored eight.
Olu Ashaolu led the NeoPhoenix (25-20) with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Tatsuya Suzuki had 12 points and Shuto Tawatari scored 11.
San-en shot 37 percent (17 of 46) from 2-point range.
Grouses 88, 89ers 64
In Sendai, Toyama guard Naoki Uto delivered a triple-double performance (11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and balanced scoring lifted his club past the hosts to earn a weekend split.
Sam Willard had 19 points and eight rebounds for the Grouses (11-34), and Yu Okada matched Willard’s scoring output. Takeshi Mito chipped in with 13 points and Dexter Pittman and Tsubasa Ohara scored 10 apiece.
Toyama led 47-29 at halftime.
Wendell White led the 89ers (12-33) with 15 points. Masaharu Kataoka contributed 11 points and Takehiko Shimura had 10.
Second-division update: Here are the results of Sunday’s games: Kagawa Five Arrows 81, Shimane Susanoo Magic 78; Ibaraki Robots 98, Iwate Big Bulls 55; Aomori Wat’s 78, Yamagata Wyverns 73; Gunma Crane Thunders 79, Fukushima Firebonds 63; Nishinomiya Storks 88, Fighting Eagles Nagoya 67; and Tokyo Excellence 80, Shinshu Brave Warriors 73.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.