Two teams entered Saturday’s contest with the same target: improving their chances of making the playoffs.
The Ryukyu Golden Kings did just that, winning 84-69 over the host Osaka Evessa.
The longtime bj-league rivals who captured seven of the league’s 11 titles, now competing as B. League foes in the West Division, have identical 26-28 records.
Shuhei Kitagawa sparked the Golden Kings with 19 points, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range. Shota Tsuyama added 16 points, Ryuichi Kishimoto scored 14 and Anthony McHenry had 12 along with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Ryukyu big man Lamont Hamilton contributed eight points and five assists.
Osaka trailed 28-12 entering the second quarter and never took the lead.
For the Evessa, Josh Harrellson and Xavier Gibson both scored 14 points and Richard Roby had 10.
SeaHorses 87, Lakestars 79
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, sharpshooter Kosuke Kanamaru delivered a 28-point performance and Isaac Butts notched a double-double (19 points, 12 rebounds) as Mikawa prevailed over the hosts.
Star guard Makoto Hiejima finished with 16 points and four assists for the SeaHorses (44-10).
Craig Brackins paced the Lakestars (15-39) with 27 points on 10-for-12 shooting, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Julian Mavunga and Faye Samba scored 18 and 10 points, respectively. Mavunga dished out a team-best six assists.
Grouses 84, NeoPhoenix 76
In Toyama, Sam Willard’s 26-point, 17-rebound performance helped guide the Grouses past San-en.
Toyama used a 16-0 spurt in the second quarter to pull ahead 40-22.
Former NBA center Dexter Pittman scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Grouses (16-38) and Yu Okada scored 14 points. Naoki Uto sparked the offense with 10 assists and six points, while Ryo Yamazaki had nine points.
Toyama finished with 20 assists and four turnovers.
For the NeoPhoenix (29-25), Josh Childress had 16 points and 15 rebounds and Robert Dozier also put 16 points on the board. Shuto Tawatari contributed 11 points and Olu Ashaolu added 10.
San-en shot 37.8 percent from the field.
Albirex BB 82, B-Corsairs 79
In Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Davante Gardner’s 27-point, 12-rebound night helped trigger Niigata’s latest win and Yokohama’s latest loss, its 10th straight.
Clint Chapman added 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Albirex (24-30). Kimitake Sato had 10 pints and Yuichi Ikeda poured in eight. Kei Igarashi chipped in with seven points and six assists and Tenyoku You had seven points.
Jeff Parmer led the B-Corsairs (15-39) with 25 points, adding six rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks. Takuya Kawamura scored 19 points with six assists and Jason Washburn had 12 points.
Brave Thunders 87, Sunrockers 80
In Tokyo, Nick Fazekas’ 30-point, 14-rebound outing helped Kawasaki hold off the hosts’ spirited fourth-quarter comeback effort.
Ryusei Shinoyama scored 18 points and handed out five assists for the Brave Thunders (45-9) and Takumi Hasegawa had 14 points.
Shibuya trailed 46-29 at halftime and 67-50 after three quarters.
Yuki Mitsuhara knocked down five 3s and went 9-for-12 from the field in an electrifying 23-point performance and teammate Ira Brown scored 18 points and doled out six assists for the Sunrockers (28-26). Aki Chambers and Robert Sacre scored 16 and 12 points, respectively, and Leo Vendrame had eight points.
Alvark 82, Levanga 70
In Sapporo, Tokyo star Diante Garrett had the hot hand, scoring 23 points and making a game-high three steals as well in a victory over the hosts.
Garrett, a former NBA guard, shot 9-for-13 from the field. Jeff Ayres added 12 points and nine boards for the Alvark (39-15). Daiki Tanaka chipped in with nine points and four assists.
For the Levanga (21-33), Daisuke Noguchi was the high scorer with 16 points and Ryota Sakurai added 11 and Takehiko Orimo scored nine. Daniel Miller and Asahi Tajima both dished out five assists.
Hannaryz 82, Diamond Dolphins 62
In Nagoya, Kyoto took a 10-point lead into halftime, then pulled away in the third quarter against the hosts.
The Hannaryz (24-30) outscored the Diamond Dolphins 31-20 in the third stanza to take a 64-43 advantage into the final period.
Hayato Kawashima paced Kyoto with 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Kevin Kotzur added 13 points and 13 rebounds and Marcus Dove also scored 13 points and pulled down nine boards. Genki Kojima and Koki Yabuuchi had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
For Nagoya (23-31), Jerome Tillman was the high scorer with 16 points and Yoshiaki Fujinaga added 11.
Brex 85, Northern Happinets 76
In Akita, balanced scoring pushed Tochigi past the hosts.
Takatoshi Furukawa nailed 3 of 5 3-pointers in a 15-point effort and Yusuke Endo also scored 15 for the East-leading Brex (43-11). Hironori Watanabe poured in 14 points, converting 3 of 6 attempts from beyond the arc and dishing out four assists. Jeff Gibbs chipped in with 12 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists. Ryan Rossiter had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
For the Happinets (17-37), Leo Lyons scored 23 points and Shigehiro Taguchi finished with 16.
Jets 96, 89ers 53
In Chiba, the Jets jumped out to a 57-17 halftime lead and led by as many as 51 points in their series-opening shellacking of Sendai.
Guard Fumio Nishimura buried 6 of 8 3s in an 18-point performance for Chiba (38-16). Michael Parker and Hilton Armstrong scored 16 points apiece, and both veterans hauled in nine rebounds. Armstrong swatted three shots and Parker blocked two.
Jets guard Yuki Togashi poured in 14 points and Tyler Stone nearly notched a triple-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.
Armstrong was 7-for-7 from the field, and the Jets finished at 50.7 percent, including 13 of 30 from beyond the arc.
For Sendai (13-41), Ryunosuke Yanagawa scored 13 points, Greg Mangano had 10 with 11 rebounds and Tshilidzi Nephawe added nine points and 11 boards.
Chiba handed out 26 assists; Sendai had five.
Second-division update: Here are Saturday’s results: Earthfriends Tokyo Z 79, Bambitious Nara 71; Kumamoto Volters 93, Kagoshima Rebnise 70; Shimane Susanoo Magic 77, Ehime Orange Vikings 61; Hiroshima Dragonflies 89, Kagawa Five Arrows 81; Tokyo Excellence 76, Fighting Eagles Nagoya 67; Nishinomiya Storks 87, Shinsu Brave Warriors 73; Fukushima Firebonds 74, Iwate Big Bulls 68; Ibaraki Robots 91, Yamagata Wyverns 80; and Gunma Crane Thunders 92, Aomori Wat’s 82.