The Alvark Tokyo are starting to hit their stride. And with six games in the books, new coach Luka Pavicevic’s vision for the team is starting to take shape.
Tokyo exhibited patience on offense early on and then picked apart the undermanned Yokohama B-Corsairs’ zone defense in the decisive third quarter en route to an 82-57 victory at Arena Tachikawa Tachihi.
The Alvark (5-1) won their second consecutive game. They are currently tied with the Chiba Jets Funabashi for the best record in the six-team East Division.
“Job well done by the players,” Pavicevic said. “I think we showed up strong defensively. I think we worked our way through the zone offense and we got the victory.”
Former NBA forward Jawad Williams and frontcourt mate Alex Kirk paced Tokyo with 14 points apiece. High-energy guard Daiki Tanaka kept the high-octane offense running efficiently with nine points and nine assists with just one turnover.
Starting power forward Joji Takeuchi chipped in with 13 points for the Alvark, 21-year-old newcomer Yudai Baba poured in 11 points and snagged a team-high seven rebounds in 25-plus minutes off the bench. Seiya Ando supplied 10 points, knocking down both of his 3-point attempts, and dished out three assists, as did Genki Kojima.
Yokohama (1-5), missing Jason Washburn and captain Alexis Minatoya due to injuries, trailed by as many as 29 points. The B-Corsairs were held to 3-for-13 shooting from 3-point range.
B-Corsairs coach Satoru Furuta credited the Alvark for playing a smart, aggressive game on offense, especially in the second half. He said that Tokyo’s defense also performed impressively.
On a brighter note, after getting outrebounded 45-26 in the series opener (a 79-58 Alvark win), Furuta said he was pleased that Yokohama made some improvement in that phase of the game, noting the Alvark’s domination on Saturday on the offensive glass (18-6) didn’t repeat itself a day later. Tokyo did, however, win the overall rebounding battle in the rematch (32-22, including 8-6 on the offensive glass).
In summary, Furuta acknowledged his team is a work in progress and “must make adjustments” due to the aforementioned injuries.
Washburn sat on the bench with crutches due to an ankle sprain.
Despite the lopsided loss, ex-NBA center Hasheem Thabeet was a bright spot for the B-Corsairs, scoring a season-high 16 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, on 7-for-14 shooting. The 221-cm native of Tanzania grabbed seven rebounds and swatted one shot. He played a game-high 30 minutes, 4 seconds.
Jeff Parmer had 13 points and Takuya Sato scored six. Kazutaka Takashima and Ryo Tawatari finished with five points apiece.
Reflecting on the game and the team’s current struggles, Thabeet said, “We’ve just got to come together and play as a group.”
Commenting on his own play so far this season, the former UConn shot-blocking maestro said “it’s still too early . . . the (teammates) are still trying to figure out what kind of player I am, and (the opponent), they’ve never played with a guy as big as me. . .”
The Alvark led 37-32 at halftime. They outscored the visitors 22-6 in the third quarter to seize control.
Kirk sank two free throws to usher in the second half and seconds later canned a baseline jumper. That put Tokyo in front 41-32.
A Shohei Kikuchi layup stretched the advantage to nine.
With 8:02 left in the third, Takeuchi drained two foul shots, pushing the lead to 45-34. The margin kept growing and growing.
With Tanaka dishing and driving with equal effectiveness — Pavicevic praised his effort as the “offensive catalyst,” the Alvark spaced the floor well and kept the ball moving. He drew a foul with 2:50 remaining in the third while attempting a layup, then canned two shots to make it 55-38. Moments later, Williams buried a pull-up jumper, putting Yokohama in a 19-point hole it couldn’t recover from.
Yokohama’s offense faltered in the third period, when the B-Corsairs were 0-for-7 on 3s and 3-for-17 overall.
The Alvark players displayed confidence throughout the game, executing Pavicevic’s tactics with precision.
“As I said yesterday, we are a better team and we worked hard to prove that on the floor,” Pavicevic told reporters.
“For me, when talking to the players two things were important for this game. We needed to come back as strong the next day as strong as the first day, speaking defensively. And on offense we knew the opponent will keep the zone defense, hoping to change a little bit of our offense.
“So the second key for this game was to have enough fast-break runs against zone defense and have good ball movement and exercise the zone offense in the best way possible.”
The Alvark shot 51.9 percent from the floor, including 54.1 percent from 2-point range. They took care of the basketball (20 assists, nine turnovers), and held an 8-5 advantage in fast-break points.
The Alvark will not rest on their laurels.
Pavicevic is already thinking about the team’s upcoming series against the Tochigi Brex.
“The league is spinning very fast,” the Montenegrin mentor said, “so we have to file this game behind and get ready for the next weekend when we go away to play Tochigi.”
NeoPhoenix 90, Albirex BB 88 (OT)
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, San-en rode Cartier Martin’s hot shooting in overtime to hold off Niigata and wrap up a series sweep.
The ex-NBA swingman scored nine of the hosts’ 13 OT points and finished with 38 overall. Martin sank 14 of 16 free throws.
Big man Davante Gardner, who put a league-record 47 points on the board, scored nine of the Albirex’s 11 points in the bonus period. He finished with an eye-popping 17-for-23 stat line from the floor. The Marquette University alum, who had 40 points on the road against Tokyo on Tuesday, grabbed 13 rebounds. Austin Dufault added 15 points and Tenyoku You had nine for Niigata (3-3).
Atsuya Ota scored 15 points and Hayato Kawashima had 11 for the NeoPhoenix (4-2). Tatsuya Suzuki finished with six assists. Shingo Okada and Scott Morrison shared the team lead in rebounds (seven apiece).
SeaHorses 86, Grouses 68
In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Isaac Butts’ 18-point performance and Daniel Orton’s 16 points and 17 rebounds sparked the hosts in their second weekend win over Toyama.
Five SeaHorses players scored in double figures. J.R. Sakuragi led the offense with six assists.
Mikawa outrebounded the visitors 47-31.
Sam Willard, who drained five 3s, had a team-high 17 points for the Grouses.
Toyama was held to 14-for-46 shooting from inside the arc.
Evessa 84, Susanoo Magic 75
In Osaka, Greg Smith and Naoya Kumagae scored 21 points apiece and the Evessa bounced back from a series-opening defeat to Shimane and earn their first victory of the season.
Smith pulled down 12 rebounds to complete the double-double. He also doled out five assists.
Kumagae canned 4 of 9 3-point attempts. Teammate Gyno Pomare finished with 16 points and seven rebounds and Shota Konno score nine points and made three steals.
Veteran floor leader Hiroyuki Kinoshita had eight assists for Osaka, which led 41-31 at halftime.
Kimitake Sato sank six 3s in a 24-point performance for the Susanoo Magic. Garrett Stutz scored 16 points and hauled in 12 boards.
Sunrockers 77, Diamond Dolphins 65
In Tokyo, former NBA big man Josh Harrellson’s 14-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance ignited Shibuya in its second consecutive triumph over Nagoya.
Leo Vendrame added 14 points and five assists and Taishiro Shimizu had 10 points for the Sunrockers, who sank 13 of 14 foul shots.
For the Diamond Dolphins, Takaya Sasayama scored 17 points and Craig Brackins had 13. Justin Burrell chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds, while Tenketsu Harimoto matched Burrell’s scoring total.
Levanga 95, Brave Thunders 79
In Sapporo, stellar passing and balanced scoring help guide the hosts past Kawasaki.
Asahi Tajiima, who dished out five assists, was one of seven Hokkaido players with two or more assists.
Marc Trasolini scored 22 points to pace the Levanga, who made 64.6 percent of their 2-point shots. Greg Whittington had 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, Ryota Sakurai added 13 points and Takehiko Orimo poured in 12.
Hokkaido closed the game by outscoring the visitors 27-14 over the final 10 minutes.
Nick Fazekas was the high scorer for the Brave Thunders, putting 28 points on the board. Josh Davis contributed 13 points and seven rebounds and Naoto Tsuji had 11 points.
Golden Kings 72, Lakestars 63
In Okinawa City, the hosts dominated the fourth quarter and completed a weekend sweep of Shiga.
The Golden Kings outscored the visitors 28-12 in the final period.
Hassan Martin had 13 points and seven rebounds for Ryukyu and Ira Brown contributed 11 points and three blocks. Shigeyuki Kinjo sank 3 of 5 3s in an 11-point outing. Hilton Armstrong chipped in with eight points, seven boards, six assists and two blocks. Kohei Ninomiya and Ryuichi Kishimoto each had eight points.
For Shiga, former Kings standout Narito Namizato scored 19 points and handed out five assists. Omar Samhan and Faye Samba added 16 and 10 points, respectively.
Jets 77, Brex 54
In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, Chiba recorded its second victory in as many days over the struggling reigning champions.
The Jets led 63-40 entering the fourth quarter at Brex Arena before a packed house of 4,191 spectators.
Michael Parker and Tony Gaffney scored 18 points apiece for Chiba. Parker added eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks, while Gaffney knocked down 3 of 6 3-point shots. Shuta Hara had 10 points and Yuki Togashi provided eight points and 10 assists in the rout.
The Jets shot 64.5 percent (27 of 45) from 2-point range.
Ryan Rossiter finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds for Tochigi. Cedric Bozeman scored nine points and Yuta Tabuse had eight.
The Brex, who registered 13 assists, turned the ball over 15 times.
Northern Happinets 86, Brave Warriors 62
Firebonds 87, Wat’s 76
Wyverns 77, Big Bulls 65
Earthfriends 93, Robots 76
Crane Thunders 73, Fighting Eagles 61
89ers 82, Bambitious 68
Orange Vikings 82, Five Arrows 76
Rizing Zephyr 90, Samuraiz 83
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