The Ryukyu Golden Kings relied on steady forward Hassan Martin in a big way down the stretch on Friday night.
The impressive rookie scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter and the title-chasing Golden Kings raced past the visiting Osaka Evessa, winning 78-66 in their series opener in Okinawa City.
The University of Rhode Island product was 4 of 5 from the field and converted 4 of 6 free throws in the final period.
Ira Brown contributed 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for Ryukyu (31-8 overall, 15-5 at home). Ryuichi Kishimoto scored 11 points and handed out six assists, Takatoshi Furukawa poured in 10 points and Hilton Armstrong chipped in with six points, five boards, three assists, two steals and a block. Naoki Tashiro contributed seven points and Takumi Ishizaki doled out five assists.
The Golden Kings won their fifth game in a row, and outscored the Evessa 32-24 in the final stanza.
Xavier Gibson had 21 points for the Evessa (13-26) and Keith Benson added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Takuya Hashimoto had an eight-point outing and Soichiro Fujitaka finished with seven.
Osaka shot 34 percent from the floor.
Orange Vikings 96, Dragonflies 90
In Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, power forward Chehales Tapscott scored a game-high 40 points, including 22 in the fourth quarter, to lead the hosts past Hiroshima.
Tapscott was 11 for 27 from the field. He sank 12 of 13 free throws for Ehime (22-16). He also supplied seven rebounds and seven assists in the series-opening victory.The Portland State product had a pair of back-to-back 42-point contests on Feb. 10 and 14. He is averaging 21.2 points per game.
Kevin Kotzur paced the Dragonflies (19-19) with 23 points.
The Orange Vikings outscored the visitors 35-21 in the fourth quarter.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.