The Sendai 89ers found a way to edge the visiting Levanga Hokkaido on Friday night.
And it came down to the final second to make it happen.
Shooting guard Fumiya Sato came through in the clutch, nailing an outside jumper with a second remaining on the game clock to lift Sendai to a 55-53 victory over Hokkaido.
With 10 seconds remaining, Levanga center Daniel Miller missed a pair of free throws. And the score was knotted at 53-53 before Sato’s final jumper.Hokkaido (17-31) took a 7-6 lead into the second quarter. Sendai pulled ahead and held a 24-22 halftime advantage.
The hosts were in front 40-32 entering the final quarter, and the Levanga’s 21 fourth-quarter points were not enough to secure a series-opening victory.
Former Yale University power forward Greg Mangano paced the 89ers (13-35) with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Sato, a native of Miyagi Prefecture, finished with 13 points, his second-best scoring output of the season. South African center Tshilidzi Nephawe, a New Mexico State product, contributed six points and 11 rebounds. Masaharu Kataoka and Takayuki Kumagai had five points apiece, while Takehiko Shimura handed out three assists.
Though he didn’t score, forward Manato Kikuchi quietly had a productive outing for Sendai. He chipped in with three rebounds, three blocks, two steals and one assist.
Sendai missed 20 of 24 3-point attempts. Hokkaido had a rough time knocking down long-distance shots, too, converting 2 of 14.
Miller notched a double-double (11 points, 10 boards) for the visitors. Teammate Asahi Tajima had nine points and six assists and Jahmar Thorpe provided eight points and eight boards.
Hokkaido outrebounded Sendai 47-40.
The 89ers made 32.8 percent of their shots from the field, while the Levanga connected on just 29.6
Second-division update: The Tokyo Excellence prevailed 87-79 over the visiting Fighting Eagles Nagoya on Friday night.
Tokyo improved to 20-29, while Nagoya slipped to 34-15.
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