It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was a win. And at this stage of the season, every win is critical for the playoff-chasing Sunrockers Shibuya.
Former Los Angeles Lakers center Robert Sacre provided a big lift for the Sunrockers with 28 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and four assists in their 69-66 Sunday victory over the visiting Yokohama B-Corsairs, whose losing streak reached seven games.
For key stretches, the 40-minute contest was a helter-skelter performance for the Sunrockers (26-25). Some sloppy passes, shot-clock management issues and inadequate 3-point shooting (4 of 23) added up to an uneven performance at Aoyama Gakuin University Memorial Hall.
Which is why Sacre’s double-double effort loomed large in the final outcome.
“Guys really buckled down and played tough basketball,” Sacre said in summing up his team’s play, “and I’m really proud of my guys.”
Sacre said that he always expects himself to provide a double-double for his team, saying he expects his team to win if he does that.
Indeed his Sunday workload was significant, with timely defense and an offensive output that included 10 of 12 from the field and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line.
“I’m very happy to get two wins (this weekend) and be close to second place,” said Shibuya coach BT Toews, whose team won the series opener 78-62 and trails the second-place San-en NeoPhoenix (27-24) by a game in the Central Division standings.
“The way we did it both days was not ideal, not looking like a team that’s heading to the playoffs, and honestly, I can’t give you just one reason why, but a lot of it has to do with what I think is poor execution, especially offensively.”
Nine of the Sunrockers’ 12 turnovers came in the second half.
Sunrockers veterans Ira Brown and Takashi Ito were sidelined due to physical ailments. Brown played on Saturday.
Kenta Hirose reached double figures in points for Shibuya, pouring in 14 points. Aki Chambers finished with seven points. Yuki Mitsuhara struggled, scoring six points on 3-for-12 shooting (0-for-5 on 3s).
As a team, Shibuya’s poor long-range shooting was compounded by turnovers, which Toews described as coming “suddenly at crucial moments.”
Jason Washburn led the B-Corsairs (15-36) with 14 points. Faye Pape Mour had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Jeff Parmer finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Masashi Hosoya added 10 points and Alexis Minatoya had nine. Takuya Kawamura was the team’s leader in assists (four).
Shortly after the second half began, Sacre scored inside courtesy of a nice driving dish from Leo Vendrame, who finished with five points, five assists, six turnovers and four steals. At that point Sacre was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field on the afternoon. He then made a dynamic block at the other end, which led to Aki Chambers’ 3-pointer from the left side. That put the Sunrockers ahead 40-29.
Commenting about his big block, Sacre offered this insight: “I was just trying to do everything I can at both ends. I really just focused on just keeping our team in it, and just trying to win the game . . . whether it was stops or scoring, that’s all that matters.”
But the Sunrockers’ inconsistency prevented them from putting the game out of reach.
The B-Corsairs had mounted a comeback after a pair of Sacre free throws put the hosts in front 42-32 early in the third. Moments later, they chipped away at the lead, using a 9-0 spurt to cut it to 44-43 on a Washburn jumper.
Entering the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 47-47.
Masayuki Kabaya nailed a pull-up jumper to give the B-Corsairs a 49-48 lead before Shibuya stretched its advantage to 55-49 on two Sacre free throws with 7:26 left in the game.
Moments later, Kawamura canned a big 3 to help keep Yokohama in it, cutting the lead to 57-54. He also brought the B-Corsairs within one, 59-58, on a putback with under 4 minutes left.
Following a Sunrockers timeout, Vendrame made a nifty pass to Sacre, who finished strong with a dunk to increase the margin to 61-58, and Shibuya held on down the stretch despite giving the visitors ample chances to pull ahead.
The officiating crew put 0.7 seconds back on the clock before the game was officially over, and fittingly, Sacre was back at the foul line with 0.7 seconds to go. He made 1 of 2 attempts to account for the game’s final scoring.
Parmer’s long baseball-like heave didn’t lead to a teammate’s shot before the final buzzer sounded as the ball was batted away.
Earlier, with a 35-29 lead at halftime, the Sunrockers capitalized on turning the visitors’ mistakes into points at the other end of the floor, outscoring Yokohama 8-0 on points from turnovers in that span. All of those takeaway-fueled points came in the opening quarter.
The B-Corsairs trailed 23-16 after one quarter.
With nine games left in the regular season, the Sunrockers are keeping their focus on each contest, one at a time, in pursuit of a playoff berth.
“We have an ultimate goal as a group,” Sacre said, “and I think it’s been great to keep focusing on the end, just what we need to do to get to the playoffs.”
B-Corsairs coach Shota Shakuno, who was elevated from assistant to bench boss following Taketo Aoki’s dismissal last week, said he was pleased his team achieved balanced scoring. He said the team’s hustle and energy in the fourth quarter, but added that “a poor start” was a problem.
Brex 72, Jets 64
In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, Tochigi outmuscled the hosts on the boards and used that inside toughness to secure a bounce-back win in the series finale.
Jeff Gibbs had 23 points and 12 boards for the East Division-leading Brex (41-10) and frontcourt mate Ryan Rossiter contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Led by Gibbs and Rossiter, Tochigi outrebounded the Jets 48-30.
Brex forward Takatoshi Furukawa finished with 13 points, draining 3 of 4 3s, and Yusuke Endo added eight points. Kosuke Takeuchi grabbed eight rebounds and fellow veteran Yuta Tabuse chipped in with six points, four assists and three steals.
Ryumo Ono scored 14 points, including 4-for-9 from beyond the arc, for Chiba (35-16). Shuta Hara had 13, as did Yuki Togashi, who handed out six assists. Tyler Stone scored 10 points, pulled down seven rebounds and committed six turnovers, while Hilton Armstrong put nine points on the board.
The Brex sank 18 of 20 free throws to seal the win.
Chiba led 33-31 at halftime.
SeaHorses 72, Diamond Dolphins 58
In Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, Tomoya Hasegawa scored 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting and Isaac Butts notched a double-double (12 points, 13 rebounds) as Mikawa completed a weekend sweep of Nagoya.
J.R. Sakuragi finished with 12 points, eight boards and four assists for the SeaHorses (41-10), Makoto Hiejima supplied nine points and five assists and Gavin Edwards also scored nine points and swatted two shots.
The Diamond Dolphins (23-28) were held to 28 second-half points. They made 6 of 13 free throws in the game and 8 of 32 3-point attempts.
Tenketsu Harimoto led Nagoya with 15 points. Justin Burrell had eight points and eight rebounds and Takaya Sasayama scored seven points.
Evessa 82, Hannaryz 74
In Osaka, the hosts dominated the third quarter and salvaged a series split with Kyoto.
Trailing 41-37 at the break, the Evessa flipped the script, outscoring the Hannaryz 23-4 in the third stanza.
Florida State alum Xavier Gibson guided Osaka (24-27) with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Hiroyuki Kinoshita finished with 12 points and five assists, with Shinnosuke Negoro matching Kinoshita’s scoring output. Rei Goda also had a dozen points along with five steals. Richard Roby chipped in with eight points and three blocks and Shota Konno had eight points.
Kyoto’s Marcus Dove scored 21 points, pulled down seven rebounds and made five steals. Mo Charlo added 15 points and nine boards for the Hannaryz (23-28). Yusuke Okada and Sunao Murakami finished with nine and eight points, respectively.
Alvark 84, 89ers 63
In Tokyo, balanced scoring steered the hosts past Sendai for the second straight day.
Daiki Tanaka had 16 points and four assists for the Alvark (38-13) and Keijuro “K.J.” Matsui poured in 13 points. Diante Garrett and Jeff Ayres each had 12 points, with Garrett dishing out five assists and Ayres hauling in 11 rebounds. Kohei Ninomiya had an 11-point outing on 4-for-5 shooting from the field. Zack Baranski ended up with nine points.
Tokyo finished with 15 assists and five turnovers.
Tshilidzi Nephawe scored 23 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the 89ers (13-38). Takehiko Shimura had 11 points and Masaharu Kataoka seven.
Lakestars 89, Golden Kings 88
In Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, Julian Mavunga sank the first of two free-throw attempts with 1 second left to lift the hosts over Ryukyu.
The Golden Kings’ Reyshawn Terry had tied it at 88-88 on a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
Craig Brackins scored 24 points and raked in nine rebounds as the Lakestars (13-38) avenged Saturday’s loss. Mavunga contributed 16 points, five boards and three assists.
Floor leader Narito Namizato added 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting and five assists for Shiga. Faye Samba contributed 11 points, seven boards and two blocks.
The Lakestars shot 10-for-21 from beyond the arc and 62.2 percent from 2-point range.
Shota Tsuyama canned 5 of 8 3s in a 21-point effort for Ryukyu (25-26) and Lamont Hamilton scored 19 points. Ryuichi Kishimoto had 18 points and four assists, Terry scored 14 points and Shigeyuki Kinjo provided seven.
The Kings made 12 of 24 3s in the series finale.
Albirex BB 81, Grouses 71
In Toyama, Davante Gardner’s 24-point performance and effective defense helped lead Niigata to its second weekend triumph over the hosts.
Gardner was sent to the foul line for 10 shots and knocked down eight of them. He also blocked two shots, matching Clint Chapman for the team lead. Four Albirex players rejected at least one shot.
Kei Igarashi scored 19 points and dished out four assists for Niigata (23-28) and Chapman had 18 points and seven boards.
Sam Willard paced the Grouses (14-37) with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Naoki Uto scored 16 points, Ryo Yamazaki had 12 and Dexter Pittman added 11 with 11 rebounds.
Injury update: Toyama guard Masashi Joho fractured the fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand on April 2 in the Grouses’ 79-70 win over Shibuya, a game in which he scored 18 points.
The 35-year-old Joho is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the season.
He’s averaging 13.3 points in 45 games.
Second-division update: Here are Sunday’s game scores: Kagawa Five Arrows 87, Ehime Orange Vikings 79; Fighting Eagles Nagoya 100, Bambitious Nara 85; Hiroshima Dragonflies 93, Kagoshima Rebnise 74; Yamagata Wyverns 84, Fukushima Firebonds 74; Ibaraki Robots 85, Aomori Wat’s 63; Gunma Crane Thunders 78, Iwate Big Bulls 68; and Earthfriends Tokyo Z 93, Shinshu Brave Warriors 80.
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