Osaka Evessa forward Shinnosuke Negoro canned a 3-pointer with 7:39 to play in the opening quarter on Sunday afternoon.
Briefly, that put the Evessa ahead 5-4.
What followed was a game-changing 12-0 run for the hosts.
For large chunks of the match, the Alvark Tokyo controlled the tempo on offense and imposed their will on the game defensively at Arena Tachikawa Tachihi.
Tokyo authored a 79-69 victory over Osaka and completed its first series sweep since back-to-back road wins over the Shimane Susanoo Magic on Nov. 3-4.
It wasn’t a repeat of Saturday, though. The Alvark won the series opener 99-55.
In the rematch, starting center Alex Kirk shined for East Division-leading Tokyo (17-4) with a team-high 21 points on 10-for-11 shooting, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks. The University of New Mexico alum was 9-for-9 shooting from inside the 3-point arc, including three dunks, getting good looks in the low post as the team’s offense operated at a high level throughout the 40-minute contest. Kirk is fifth in the 18-team top flight in scoring (16.5 points per game).
The aforementioned spurt started with a driving runner by Shohei Kikuchi. He then buried a wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing. Genki Kojima, who mentioned Jason Kidd and Russell Westbrook as his all-time favorite NBA guards in a post-game interview, capped the run with a layup after teammate Joji Takeuchi made a steal. That made it 16-5, and the Alvark dominated most of the 30-plus minutes that remained, and never trailed again.
Osaka trailed 23-16 at halftime and 42-33 after two quarters.
The Alvark, who shot 50.8 percent from the floor, were in front 64-47 entering the final period. By that point, the Evessa had made just 19 of 48 shots against an active, tenacious Tokyo defense.
Former NBA forward Jawad Williams came off the bench and sank 6 of 9 shots, including 3 of 4 3s, in a 15-point performance for Tokyo. Kojima and Kikuchi each scored eight points. Takeuchi made an impact with seven points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Yudai Baba and Seiya Ando contributed six and five points, respectively, while Daiki Tanaka dished out four assists.
“We came out really strong,” Williams said after the game.
Gyno Pomare paced the Evessa (6-15) with 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting. Naoya Kumagae added 15 points and Greg Smith had eight points and 11 rebounds. Rei Goda had six points and five six assists, with Negoro, David Wear and Shota Konno matching his scoring total.
Though Osaka dropped its second straight game, coach Dai Oketani’s club’s spirited effort never let the hosts get complacent. The Evessa mixed up its defensive schemes and stayed aggressive, switching from 2-3 and 3-2 zone defenses to pressure defense at times.
The Alvark, though, mostly made good decisions with the basketball and kept the offensive pressure on their foe, utilizing the passing skills of a deep, versatile roster. Six Tokyo players finished with two or more assists.
After the victory, Tokyo coach Luka Pavicevic said, “Congratulations to my team on completing our main task, which was to connect two victories over the weekend against Osaka. Also, congratulations to Osaka on a strong game that they put up after a difficult lost, which happened yesterday.
“We knew that the opponent would come with a strong spirit and a strong will to fight to the last moment, and through most of the game we were ready for it, and I would say we controlled the game from the start to the end.
“However, there were moments of (what) I would call lack of focus, where even a softness creeped up in our defense, and these were the moments where Osaka were using and getting back in the game repeatedly throughout the full course of the match.”
Pavicevic admitted he’s not completely satisfied with where his team is at right now.
“I certainly hope that as a team we will get to the point where we will be able to control those moments even on the second day when everything is much harder, especially for the team who has, let’s say, who has had a victory the day before,” the first-year bench boss said.
Like Williams, Kojima said he was pleased with the team’s strong start in both games against the Evessa. He added that the team’s offensive balance and performance was solid, but acknowledged there’s room for improvement.
Kirk, who had a five-game stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014-15 season, said he can’t recall making as many shots from 2-point range in his pro career, including stints in Italy, China, Turkey and the NBA Development League (now known as the NBA G League).
“That’s just pretty tough to do, I’d have to say,” the 211-cm Kirk said. “That’s pretty good.”
Asked to analyze how effective his team’s offense was, Kirk offered this assessment: “They got me the ball in the right places, and I was able to make good moves, and then obviously I have a little bit of a high advantage. And some of the stuff they (the Evessa) were doing, they were trying to switch up zones, and I think at times they confused themselves. . . “
Osaka coach Dai Oketani said he was pleased with his team’s overall effort and energy, but added that too many turnovers (13) and a slow start were tough factors to overcome.
While the team has exhibited strong execution of its plays in recent practices, that consistency didn’t transfer to the games over the weekend, he lamented.
Oketani said there’s a lot of work to do when Osaka returns to practice.
The Evessa look to regroup as they face the visiting Sunrockers Shibuya next weekend. The Alvark, meanwhile, prepare to play host to the Tochigi Brex.
Storks 100, Albirex BB 85
In Sanda, Hyogo Prefecture, Draelon Burns’ 32-point performance, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range, helped guide the hosts past star big man Davante Gardner and Niigata, giving the Storks a bounce-back win.
Gardner paced the Albirex with 43 points and nine rebounds. The league’s scoring leader (29.7 points per game) made 13 of 17 shots from the floor and sank 17 of 20 free throws.
Nishinomiya led 46-35 at halftime.
In addition to Burns, Noriaki Dohara (14 points) and Naoki Tani (13) scored in double figures for the Storks (5-16), as did Connor Lammert and Reo Sakai, both of whom finished with 11 points.
Burns, Lammert and Kento Matsuzaki dished out four assists apiece for the hosts. Sakai corralled a team-best nine rebounds.
Kei Igarashi had 17 points and six assists for Niigata (9-12). Masashi Joho, who scored 30 points in the series opener by making 10 of 12 3s, was held to five points, including 1 of 6 from long range in the series finale.
Jets 105, Sunrockers 72
In Tokyo, Chiba avenged Saturday’s eight-point defeat by routing Shibuya, ending the Sunrockers’ 10-game winning streak.
The Jets (15-6) registered 23 assists against only four turnovers en route to topping the century mark in points.
Former University of Connecticut big man Gavin Edwards had a banner performance for the Jets, finishing with 25 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Chiba star Yuki Togashi scored 17 points and handed out six assists. Leo Lyons and Aki Chambers added 13 points apiece, while Michael Parker and Ryumo Ono both had 12. Fumio Nishimura chipped in with eight points and seven assists.
The Sunrockers trailed 26-17 after one quarter and 55-39 at halftime.
Chiba closed out the game with an impressive fourth quarter, outscoring the hosts 28-13.
Leo Vendrame had 21 points for Shibuya (14-7) and Robert Sacre scored 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting. Yuki Mitsuhara added 10 points, while Morihisa Yamauchi contributed a season-best 10 assists and five points.
Hannaryz 89, Susanoo Magic 78
In Kyoto, coach Honoo Hamaguchi’s club relied on a balanced scoring attack to defeat Shimane for the second straight day.
Julian Mavunga put 20 points on the board and doled out seven assists. The Miami (Ohio) University alum sank 3 of 4 3-point attempts. Teammate Masaharu Kataoka poured in 14 points. Joshua Smith had a double-double (12 points, 10 boards) and backup forward/center Yuya Nagayoshi added 11 points, five boards, two assists and a block.
Tatsuya Ito had nine points and Shun Watanuki contributed seven for Kyoto (12-9), which led 47-35 at halftime.
The Hannaryz, who extended their winning streak to three games, finished with 17 assists and six turnovers. They sank 11 of 23 shots from beyond the arc.
For the Susanoo Magic (5-16), Josh Scott had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Tyler Stone, Shota Watanaba and Kimitake Sato all had 14-point outings.
NeoPhoenix 80, Grouses 54
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, hot-shooting San-en routed Toyama to secure a series split.
The NeoPhoenix (9-12) converted 23 of 36 attempts from 2-point range.
Wendell White led San-en with 17 points and snared six rebounds. Robert Dozier scored 13 points and Shingo Okada and Atsuya Ota both had 11. Shuto Tawatari chipped in with 10 points and five assists.
Naoki Uto had 17 points and eight turnovers for the Grouses (9-12). Sam Willard scored nine points and collected 10 rebounds.
Brex 78, B-Corsairs 70
In Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Tochigi raced out a 24-11 lead after one quarter and took a 62-53 advantage into the final stanza in a series-opening victory over Yokohama.
Ryan Rossiter supplied 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the reigning champion Brex (9-11) and Shuhei Kitagawa poured in 17 points. Hironori Watanabe added 12 points and four assists.
Andrew Naymick and Yuta Tabuse spearheaded the Tochigi defensive effort with four blocks and three steals, respectively.
The Brex struggled at the free-throw line, making 9 of 21 attempts.
William McDonald scored 18 points for Yokohama (4-16) and Hasheem Thabeet had 15 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Takuya Kawamura had a 13-point game and Ryo Tawatari added 10 points and five assists. Takuya Sato also handed out five assists.
The teams wrap up their series on Monday night.
Here are the results of Sunday’s B2 games:
Volters 89, Firebonds 72
Wat’s 71, Northern Happinets 70
Orange Vikings 80, Robots 66
Crane Thunders 77, Brave Warriors 74
Samuraiz 85, Fighting Eagles 62
Rizing Zephyr 76, Wyverns 62
Dragonflies 92, Big Bulls 49
With a 43-point setback to Hiroshima, Iwate (2-19 overall) suffered its 14th straight loss, a second-division record. . . . For Fukuoka (19-2), former Arizona State big man Eric Jacobsen is the team’s leading scorer (18.1 points) and rebounder (8.1), while Rizing Zephyr star Josh Peppers is No. 2 on the team’s scoring chart (15.6) through Sunday.
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