The Toyama Grouses held off the pesky Nishinomiya Storks in the fourth quarter on Saturday night, clinging to a slim lead down the stretch in a 72-68 series-opening victory.
The Grouses (2-1) led 61-47 after three quarters in Toyama.
The Storks converted 8 of 11 shots from 2-point range in the fourth quarter as they attempted to complete an improbable comeback, but came up short.
Yu Okada scored 15 points for the hosts and Drew Viney and Sam Willard both had 13. Willard hauled in 12 rebounds and frontcourt mate Viney collected 10. Naoki Uto supplied seven points and eight assists for the Grouses.
Okada was the team leader in steals (three), with Willard and Yuki Ueta each contributing two. Willard swatted two shots for good measure.
Noriaki Dohara had 14 points for Nishinomiya (0-3) and Draelon Burns scored 11 and grabbed eight rebounds. Jordan Vandenberg and Yuya Ishitsuka chipped in with 10 points apiece. Noriaki Tani handed out four assists.
Susanoo Magic 80, Brex 72 (OT)
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, the hosts outlasted Tochigi in overtime.
Newcomer Josh Scott had 19 points and 23 rebounds for the Magic (1-2), while Garrett Stutz poured in 14 points and grabbed seven boards.
Takuya Soma added 12 points for Shimane, which outrebounded the visitors 55-46.
Ryan Rossiter led the defending champion Brex (1-2) with 21 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. Cedric Bozeman scored 16 points and Kosuke Takeuchi added a double-double (10 points, 10 boards) and a game-high three blocks. Yusuke Endo finished with nine points.
Tochigi was 15-for-24 at the free-throw line; Shimane sank 14 of 18.
Jets 76, Hannaryz 63
In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, coach Atsushi Ono’s club extended its wining steak to three games to begin the new season by routing Kyoto.
Power forward Gavin Edwards scored a game-best 20 points for the Jets and Yuki Togashi poured in 18 points and dished out six assists. Michael Parker chipped in with 13 points and nine rebounds plus two steals and two blocks. Aki Chambers had seven points, nine boards and three steals.
The Hannaryz (2-1) trailed 34-25 at halftime.
Marcus Dove paced Kyoto with 12 points and Julian Mavunga and Masaharu Kataoka had 10 apiece.
Kyoto finished with 22 turnovers, and Chiba capitalized on the visitors’ miscues, the Jets scoring 27 points off turnovers.
Brave Thunders 76, Lakestars 59
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Nick Fazekas’ 22-point, 13-rebound performance and Naoto Tsuji’s 20 points helped carry Kawasaki past the hosts.
Josh Davis contributed 18 points and 10 boards for the Brave Thunders (2-1) and Ryusei Shinoyama handed out a team-best five assists.
Kawasaki made 25 of 31 free throws; Shiga sank 10 of 15.
Faye Samba, a native of Senegal, led the Lakestars (1-2) with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. Omar Samhan and Narito Namizato scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Samhan also raked in 15 rebounds.
SeaHorses 89, Evessa 61
In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Mikawa led from start to finish in a runaway victory over winless Osaka.
The SeaHorses (2-1) shot 58.1 percent from the field as six players reached double figures in points. Kosuke Kanamaru sank 3 of 4 3s in a 15-point performance and Isaac Butts and Sunao Murakami both had 12. J.R. Sakuragi made his mark with 11 points and nine assists with zero turnovers. Daniel Orton added 10 points and 10 boards and Ryoma Hashimoto matched Orton’s scoring total.
For the Evessa (0-3), Gyno Pomare was the team’s leading scorer with 11 points.
Osaka shot 1-for-13 from 3-point range.
Golden Kings 91, Diamond Dolphins 77
In Nagoya, balance scoring sparked Ryukyu in a stellar win over the hosts.
Six Golden Kings players scored in double digits: Hilton Armstrong and Ryuichi Kishimoto (17 points apiece), Shota Tsuyama (11) and Ira Brown, Hassan Martin and Kohei Ninomiya (all with 10).
Ninomiya, who previously played for the Alvark Tokyo, added seven assists and three steals, and Brown provided six assists and three blocks for Ryukyu (2-1).
The Golden Kings knocked down 13 of 28 3s, including Kishimoto’s 4-for-7 effort and Tsuyama’s 3-for-7. Takumi Ishizaki, who scored seven points, drained 2 of 3.
Takaya Sasayama flushed 5 of 6 3-point attempts en route to 18 points for the Diamond Dolphins (1-2). Seiya Funyu, Justin Burrell and Jerome Tillman all scored 13 points. Burrell grabbed 10 rebounds to complete the double-double.
NeoPhoenix 72, Sunrockers 66
In Tokyo, former NBA small forward Cartier Martin drained five 3s in a 26-point performance in his San-en debut, leading the visitors past Shibuya.
The game was tied 23-23 entering the second half at Aoyama Gakuin University.
The 201-cm Martin, who has played in a total of 243 regular-season games (15 starts) for the Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, attempted 11 shots from beyond the arc. He attended Kansas State.
Tatsuya Suzuki scored 11 points and doled out three assists for the NeoPhoenix (1-2). Teammate Scott Morrison contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds, Hayato Kawashima put seven points on the board and Atsuya Ota pulled down seven rebounds.
Ex-NBA center Robert Sacre had 19 points, 12 rebounds and a pair of blocks for the Sunrockers (1-2), who made 3 of 13 3s on the night.
Shibuya’s Leo Vendrame scored 18 points, Takashi Ito had 10 and Manato Kikuchi seven.
Saturday’s scores are as follows:
Northern Happinets 85, Earthfriends 60
Samuraiz 73, 89ers 70
Volters 85, Robots 65
Dragonflies 69, Big Bulls 64
Rizing Zephyr 85, Wyverns 73
Brave Warriors 68, Bambitious 51
Orange Vikings 96, Fighting Eagles 85
Firebonds 68, Five Arrows 61
Crane Thunders 96, Wat’s 75
Reggie Warren had 13 points, 20 rebounds and six assists in Kagawa’s loss to Fukushima. … Kanazawa’s Andrew Fitzgerald leads the second flight in scoring (23.0 points per game). … Kumamoto’s Takumi Furuno is No. 1 in assists (7.3).
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5