The Central Division champion Nishinomiya Storks defeated the visiting Gunma Crane Thunders 70-60 victory in Game 2 of the B. League second-division semifinals on Friday night.
With the win, the Storks advance to the B2 final at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2, where they will face the winner of the Shimane Susanoo Magic-Hiroshima Dragonflies semifinal series that gets underway on Saturday.
Nishinomiya (45-17) led 40-31 at halftime in a game that featured only one lead change.Storks coach Kensaku Tennichi’s club held the Crane Thunders to 36.2 percent shooting from the field.
Tadahiro Yanagawa sparked Nishinomiya with 19 points, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Draelon Burns came off the bench to contribute 13 points, five assists, two steals and two blocks in 20 minutes. Naoki Tani scored nine points, Noriaki Douhara had eight and former NBA swingman Larry Owens finished with seven points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
Gunma’s Thomas Kennedy had 17 points and 13 rebounds. Shota Kurihara scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting and Abdullahi Kuso contributed seven points and 10 rebounds.
The East champion Crane Thunders (40-22), who will meet either Shimane or Hiroshima in the third-place game on May 20 at Yoyogi, had only five assists and 13 turnovers.
Thursday rewind: The Storks defeated the Crane Thunders 68-59 in the series opener.
Burns had a team-high 14 points, including 6-for-6 at the free-throw line, and Douhara poured in 13. Owens chipped in with nine points and eight rebounds, while Yanagawa had seven points and five assists.
Kennedy paced Gunma with 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Kuso had 14 points and six blocks and Hirotaka Kondo scored eight points.
Nishinomiya led 37-28 at halftime.