The Kawasaki Brave Thunders’ two-point halftime deficit increased to 12 entering the fourth quarter on Friday night.
The Brave Thunders didn’t panic against the Sunrockers Shibuya.
They did the opposite, playing effective basketball in the fourth quarter, forcing overtime on Nick Fazekas’ game-tying shot with 9 seconds left. They outscored the visitors 25-13 in the fourth and 17-10 in OT en route to a 93-86 triumph.
The Sunrockers led 76-73 with 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Yuma Fujii pulled the Brave Thunders within two, draining two free throws with 26 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.
Fazekas’ clutch jumper made it 76-76.
The Central Division champion Brave Thunders displayed poise and excellence at the free-throw line in their 59th game of the regular season.
Kawasaki (49-10) sank 16 of 18 foul shots.
The Sunrockers, on the other hand, squandered chance after chance to win it with an abysmal showing at the foul line.
Shibuya canned 5 of 18 free throws. Ira Brown was 1-for-6. Robert Sacre was 3-for-8. Leo Vendrame was 1-for-4.
Meanwhile, MVP front-runner Fazekas, a former University of Nevada and NBA player, finished with 27 points and 20 rebounds for the hosts, with three assists, one steal and one block for good measure.
Kawasaki’s Ryan Spangler had 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting, while Naoto Tsuji and Ryusei Shinoyama both scored 13. Fujii poured in 12 points. Tsuji and Fujii had four assists apiece, while Shinoyama handed out three. Shinoyama made a game-high five steals.
Sacre paced the Sunrockers (31-28) with 27 points on 12-for-20 shooting from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. Brown had 13 points and Kenta Hirose scored 11 and dished out six assists.
Shibuya outrebounded the hosts 42-39, including 16-11 in offensive boards. The Sunrockers outscored the Brave Thunders 17-8 in second-chance points.
Both teams had 10 steals.
Second-division update: Also Friday, the Nishinomiya Storks defeated the Tokyo Excellence 82-70.
The Storks improved to 42-17; the Excellence fell to 22-37.