Standing next to Sunrockers mascot Sundy, B. League chairman Masaaki Okawa warmly greeted the crowd on a rainy, gloomy Sunday afternoon.
The chairman makes the rounds, visiting arenas throughout the nation. On this visit, from the center circle, his pre-game words provided an upbeat start to the festivities at Aoyama Gakuin University Memorial Hall.
The Sunrockers then did their part to keep the energetic vibe in place. Shibuya jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never trailed in a 71-59 victory over the Yokohama B-Corsairs.
Shibuya (5-6) led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter to avenge a 67-61 defeat in the series opener on Saturday, when the B-Corsairs ended a seven-game slide.
The Sunrockers maintained their energetic presence on both ends of the floor throughout the 40-minute contest. Team defense, fueled by alert recognition of what the B-Corsairs were doing on offense, was a positive theme for the hosts.
Shibuya’s aggressive play led to 21 fouls compare to Yokohama’s eight. But it was indicative of the energy Sunrockers coach Geoffrey Katsuhisa’s team exhibited.
Katsuhisa said his team started out strong and played good team basketball. After a loss on Saturday, he said he wanted his players to control the tempo, which he proclaimed they did.
Tomoya Hasegawa sparked Shibuya with 14 points and ex-NBA big man Robert Sacre had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Sacre’s powerful slam dunk with about 4:30 left put a big exclamation point on the rout, and that made the score 69-47.
Later on, Sacre had this to say: “I thought we played really well.”
Shibuya’s Yuki Mitsuhara, who was 3-for-3 from long range, had 11 points and seven rebounds in 20 productive minutes for the hosts, with Kenta Hirose chipping in with 10 points and six assists along with a steal. Hirose had 10 points and five assists by halftime, helping set the tone for the team’s strong start.
After the game, Hirose acknowledged that the Sunrockers’ impressive start — they led 15-2 near the midway point of the opening quarter after he buried a 3-pointer — was fueled by an “aggressive mindset.”
Defensive energy and smart ball movement were equal factors in the team’s success, he added.
Takashi Ito chipped in with nine points and three assists for the Sunrockers, who reduced their turnover total from 21 in the series opener to 13 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Shibuya newcomer Jahmar Thorpe, Sacre and Hirose all made one block apiece.
Yokahama (2-9) scored exactly 14 points in each of the first three quarters, and trailed 61-42 entering the final stanza. Coach Satoru Furuta’s team was held to 28.8 percent shooting overall.
The B-Corsairs had one double-digit scorer, Ryo Tawatari, who had 14 points. Veteran guard Masayuki Kabaya added nine points and Jeff Parmer and Hasheem Thabeet both scored eight. Thabeet, who shot 0-for-6 from the field, collected 13 rebounds and blocked three shots.
The Sunrockers were in front 21-14 after the opening quarter. Their aforementioned game-opening spurt included two 3s from Mitsuhara. Overall, Shibuya stretched the floor early on and sank five 3s (out of eight shots) in the first period.
On the other hand, Furuta conceded that “it was a poor start” for his team.
Backup post player Josh Harrellson made a solid impact off the bench, giving the Sunrockers five points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. His steady defense helped keep the B-Corsairs from getting into an offensive rhythm throughout the game.
“We’ve been playing well,” Harrellson said. “Even though we lost back-to-back (games) to Kawasaki, our offense and defense are playing really well. . . . We had a lapse yesterday where we kind of came out flat, and we underestimated Yokohama. They are a professional basketball team, so we’ve got to give them all the respect in the world, and tonight we changed our mindset, we came out and played hard, and hopefully going forward we can keep up the same success.”
With 11 games in the books and 49 remaining on their regular-season schedule, Harrellson said Sunday’s triumph was a good reminder of what they need to do.
“We’ve got to set the tempo every single game,” Harrellson said.
Taking a 39-28 lead into halftime, the Sunrockers then carried that same intensity into the third quarter.
Ito opened the half with an athletic move, making a pull-up jumper to stretch the lead to 13, and the margin fluctuated between 15 and 20 points for large stretches of the second half.
For instance, a Hasegawa 3-pointer put the Sunrockers in front 54-35 near the 3:40 mark of the third, and after a Ken Takeda 3 trimmed it to 54-38, Sacre’s tip-in sent the lead back to 18 (56-38).
The hosts pulled away in the second half, with the B-Corsairs failing to mount a serious threat.
Yokohama closed out the game on a 10-0 run to account for the final score.
SeaHorses 103, Diamond Dolphins 93
In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, coach Kimikazu Suzuki’s squad took a 56-46 lead into halftime and went on to complete a series sweep of Nagoya.
Mikawa (10-1) controlled the boards, outrebounding the visitors 37-23 en route to its 10th consecutive victory.
Sharpshooter Kosuke Kanamaru paced the SeaHorses with 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Makoto Hiejima added 19 points and six assists and J.R. Sakuragi provided 14 points and 12 rebounds. Daniel Orton contributed 11 points, while Keijuro Matsui and Isaac Butts had nine apiece.
The hosts shot 64.2 percent from inside the arc.
Takaya Sasayama had 17 points and six assists for the Diamond Dolphins (4-7). Craig Brackins scored 16 points, Jerome Tillman had 15 and Justin Burrell poured in 14 and hauled in eight boards.
Hannaryz 64, Susanoo Magic 57
In Kyoto, the hosts outplayed Shimane in the decisive fourth quarter, earning their second win in as many days.
The Hannaryz scored 25 points in the final stanza and held the visitors to 13.
Kyoto’s Yusuke Okada scored 13 points, sharing the team lead with Julian Mavunga, who also had six rebounds and six assists. Yuya Nagayoshi added 11 points and Joshua Smith supplied 10 for the Hannaryz (7-4). Marcus Dove, who was held scoreless, chipped in with 10 rebounds and five assists.
For the Susanoo Magic (4-7), Shota Watanabe had 14 points and Joshua Scott finished with 12 points and 15 boards.
NeoPhoenix 75, Lakestars 61
In Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Cartier Martin’s 20-point performance sparked San-en in a bounce-back victory over Shiga.
Scott Morrison added 15 points and nine rebounds for the NeoPhoenix (5-6) and Tatsuya Suzuki chipped in with 11 points and four assists. Teammate Hayato Kawashima had nine points, seven boards and five assists.
Martin shot 8-for-12 from the field.
D’or Fischer led the Lakestars (4-7) with 18 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. Faye Samba and Yusuke Karino each scored nine points. Narito Namizato handed out six assists.
Fischer, who swatted seven shots in the series opener, now leads the league with 3.2 blocks per game.
Levanga 92, Brex 67
In Obihiro, Hokkaido, the hosts drained 64.7 percent of their 3-point attempts (11 of 17) in a runaway victory over Tochigi, giving Hokkaido bench boss Kota Mizuno’s club a series split.
Greg Whittington paced Levanga (7-4) with 17 points, Takehiko Orimo added 15, including 3 of 5 from long range, and Marc Trasolini scored 14. Kosuke Sekino knocked down 3 of 4 3s in an 11-point afternoon. Daniel Miller contributed eight points and 10 boards.
The Brex trailed 51-36 at halftime.
Ryan Rossiter had 19 points for Tochigi (3-8). Cedric Bozeman scored 11 points, Kosuke Takeuchi and Seiji Ikaruga provided nine apiece and Yusuke Endo dished out five assists.
The Brex missed 14 of 18 3-point shots.
Alvark 78, Grouses 65
In Tachikawa, balanced scoring helped propel Tokyo past Toyama for its seventh straight win.
Coach Luka Pavicevic’s high-octane Alvark (10-1) got a big boost from Joji Takeuchi (16 points), with Daiki Tanaka igniting the scoring attack with seven points and nine assists. Alex Kirk contributed 13 points and three blocks and Landen Lucas supplied 12 points. Yudai Baba chipped in with 10 points, five boards and three assists. Seiya Ando scored nine points and Jawad Williams had seven points and seven rebounds.
Naoki Uto finished with 16 points and seven assists for the Grouses (4-7). Drew Viney had 14 points, Dexter Pittman scored 12 and Sam Willard 11.
Storks 69, Evessa 63
In Osaka, Nishinomiya’s defense secured a victory over the Evessa, giving Storks coach Kensaku Tennichi a victory over his former team.
The out-of-towners held the hosts to 11 fourth-quarter points.
Former DePaul University standout Draelon Burns energized Nishinomiya (4-7) with 16 points, five steals and four assists. Connor Lammert had a 14-point outing and Noriaki Dohara and Yuya Ishitsuka both put eight points on the board.
Osaka had 20 assists and 20 turnovers in the series finale.
Naoya Kumagae, who’s averaging 11.6 points a game, scored 22 points for the Evessa (3-8). Greg Smith added seven points and 13 rebounds, and David Wear and Shinnosuke Negoro also both scored seven points.
Golden Kings 68, Jets 60 (OT)
In Okinawa City, Ryuichi Kishimoto scored 18 points and Ira Brown had 16 as Ryukyu outlasted Chiba in overtime.
Shota Tsuyama doled out six assists for the Golden Kings (7-4).
Gavin Edwards had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Ryumo Ono scored 19 points for the Jets (8-3), who shot 6-for-27 from 3-point range. Yuki Togashi had nine points and five assists.
The Jets won the series opener 72-61 on Friday.
Sunday’s scores are as follows:
Dragonflies 90, Fighting Eagles 84
Brave Warriors 87, Big Bulls 64
Northern Happinets 83, 89ers 70
Five Arrows 80, Bambitious 69
Volters 80, Samuraiz 54
Orange Vikings 74, Crane Thunders 71