With 12 consecutive losses, the Shimane Susanoo Magic have endured a difficult stretch in a season with few tangible positive results.
Shimane has a 1-22 record in away contests, which is worst among the 18 top-flight clubs. And first-year coach Yukinori Suzuki’s team returns to the court this weekend after the international break last week (Japan participated in 2019 World Cup qualifiers) with a 7-31 record, which ties them with the Nishinomiya Storks for the poorest win-loss mark in the B1.
Simply put, the Susanoo Magic aren’t scoring enough points to consistently win games.
They are last in scoring (70.9 points per game). Every other statistic is affected by their inadequate offensive punch.
In their past five defeats, the Magic have put 75, 70, 68, 61 and 45 point on the board, the latter figure in a 78-45 road rout to the reigning champion Tochigi Brex on Feb. 18.
Suzuki’s squad had a six-point first quarter and a six-point fourth quarter in the rout, and shot 26.7 percent from the field, with Josh Scott (15 points) and Edward Yamamoto (10) providing the bulk of the team’s scoring.
Maybe the Magic have already hit rock bottom.
In the ongoing restructuring of the team in the second half of the season, Shimane on Wednesday announced the acquisition of veteran forward Al Thornton, the No. 14 overall pick (Los Angeles Clippers) in the 2007 NBA Draft. The 34-year-old Florida State product has suited up for the Clippers, Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors. He’s also competed in Puerto Rico (Guayama Wizards), China (Zhejiang Lions) and the Philippines (NLEX Road Warriors and Mighty Sports PH).
“I look forward to going to battle with these guys each and every night and also improving as a unit,” Thornton said in a team-issued statement.
To make room on the roster for Thornton, Shimane released 206-cm American forward Jameel McKay. He appeared in 10 games for the Magic, averaging 13.1 minutes, 2.5 points and 5.4 rebounds.
“I would like to just thank Shimane for giving me an opportunity to play for this organization, and I am very disappointed that the result was not better,” McKay said, according to a news release. “I would like to say best of luck to the team for the rest of the season and I believe I will be back in Japan again hopefully in the near future.”
While in the NBA (2007-11), Thornton had a career-high 39 points for Los Angeles against the Memphis Grizzlies, including 20 in the fourth quarter, on March 29, 2008. He was an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection that season, and averaged 16.8 points and 5.2 rebounds the next season for the Clips. He appeared in 296 NBA games (167 starts) and averaged 11.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists.
Thornton, a Florida State Seminole from 2003-07, received All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team accolades in his final college season and was named to The Associated Press All-America Third Team.
The Perry, Georgia, native shined for Mighty Sports PH in the 2016 William Jones Cup, pouring in 30 points in a contest against India and leading the club to an 8-0 record and the title.
Last summer, Thornton played for the Allen Iverson-led 3’s Company in the BIG 3 summer streetball circuit. In eight games, he posted a scoring average of 11.3 ppg. Before joining the Susanoo Magic, Thornton had a 15-game stint this season for Salta Basket in the Argentine League, and contributed 14.4 points and 4.0 rebounds. He now joins a Shimane squad seeking to finish the season with a respectable stretch run.
The veteran core of the Magic includes floor leader Yamamoto, a member of the original Shimane team in 2010-11, rugged forward Kazuya “J.” Hatano and captain Kimitake Sato (9.1 ppg). Up-and-coming point guard Shota Watanabe is 24 years old and is providing 7.1 points and a team-high 3.8 assists per game.
Well-traveled forward Gyno Pomare, who played in 29 and four games, respectively, for the Osaka Evessa and Iwate Big Bulls this season, also recently joined the team, adding knowledge about the league and valuable leadership on and off the court.
10-game measuring stick
Over the past 10 games, the Chiba Jets Funabashi and Brex are the top East Division teams, both winning eight times. Among Central Division clubs, the first-place SeaHorses Mikawa went 8-2 and take a six-game winning streak into their weekend series.
One other team, however, has a better mark in that 10-game span: the Ryukyu Golden Kings, who triumphed nine times. The West-leading Kings have a league-best 16-3 road record.
A look ahead
This weekend’s slate of games is scheduled to commence on Friday with Ryukyu playing host to Osaka. A day later, it’s Niigata vs. Tokyo, Chiba vs. Shibuya, Yokohama vs. Kawasaki, Toyama vs. Nagoya, Shiga vs. Mikawa, Kyoto vs. Tochigi and Shimane vs. San-en. The Hokkaido-Nishinomiya series tips off on Monday.
The struggling second-division Aomori Wat’s dismissed head coach Nobunaga Sato on Monday.
With the team sitting in fifth place in the East Division with a 9-29 record, Wat’s management opted to hand the reins to new coach Noriyuki Kitaya, an Aomori native, in an attempt to improve. The move was announced a day later.
Sato had been in charge since the start of the 2015-16 season, when the team competed in the bj-league.
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