Basketball / B. League

Inside strength carries Brave Thunders past NeoPhoenix

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Kawasaki Brave Thunders dominated inside during Sunday’s series opener against the San-en NeoPhoenix.

On defense, the Brave Thunders also caused fits for San-en’s shooters, who struggled to put points on the board.

Kawasaki picked up a 77-54 victory that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

The NeoPhoenix (23-29) used a 7-0 run near the end of the game to trim the lead to 23 points.

The Brave Thunders (35-17) led by as many as 31 points.

Big man Nick Fazekas had 21 points and 15 rebounds as Kawasaki put its stamp on the game in the paint, where it scored 50 points and held the hosts to 26 in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture. Ryusei Shinoyama chipped in with 17 points and Josh Davis supplied 11 with nine boards and five assists. Lou Amundson added eight and seven rebounds.

The Brave Thunders outrebounded the NeoPhoenix 46-28.

Atsuya Ota led San-en with 13 points and Scott Morrison scored 10.

The NeoPhoenix, who shot 34.5 percent from the floor, trailed 37-24 at halftime.

Brex 76, Grouses 67

In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, the defending champions used a 13-0 run to pull ahead 51-43 in the third quarter and held off Toyama in the series opener.

Shuhei Kitagawa scored 14 points and Jeff Gibbs and Ryan Rossiter each had 13 for the Brex (29-23). Rossiter grabbed 11 rebounds to complete the double-double, while Gibbs hauled in eight boards. Seiji Ikaruga and Hironori Watanabe had 11 points apiece, Kosuke Takeuchi chipped in with six points and nine rebounds and Yuta Tabuse dished out five assists.

Tochigi sank 19 of 22 free-throw attempts.

Toyama (22-30) led 37-31 at halftime before being outscored 27-15 in the third stanza.

Former NBA center Dexter Pittman was the Grouses’ high scorer with 17 points. Sam Willard had 11 points and Clint Chapman and Naoki Uto both scored nine, with Uto handing out six assists. Takeshi Mito and Yuto Otsuka scored eight apiece.

Uto had a game-high seven turnovers.

SeaHorses 93, Susanoo Magic 91

In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Mikawa built a 17-point cushion entering the final quarter and fended off Shimane’s spirited rally.

J.R. Sakuragi guided the SeaHorses (43-9) with 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Courtney Sims added 14 points and 13 rebounds, Ryoma Hashimoto scored 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Isaac Butts put eight points on the board and Keijuro Matsui provided seven, as did Makoto Hiejima, who dished out seven assists.

Al Thornton paced Shimane (8-44) with 38 points on 15-for-32 shooting. He made 6 of 10 3s. Takuya Soma followed with 27 points and Gyno Pomare scored 10.

Evessa 97, B-Corsairs 76

In Osaka, Xavier Gibson, David Wear and Hiroyuki Kinoshita notched double-doubles as the Evessa cruised past Yokohama for their fifth straight win.

Gibson scored 21 points and corralled 11 rebounds and Wear scored 11 points and grabbed 10 boards. Floor leader Kinoshita added 10 points and 11 assists.

Naoya Kumagae had an 18-point performance for Osaka (20-32), which led 36-19 after the opening quarter. Keith Benson and Rei Goda added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Evessa used a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter to take their largest lead of the game, 97-75.

Yokohama’s William McDonald had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Masashi Hosoya scored 16 points and registered seven assists. Teammate Takuya Kawamura added 12 points and 10 assists and Hasheem Thabeet scored 12 points and swatted two shots for the B-Corsairs (15-37).

Sunrockers 90, Lakestars 74

In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Robert Sacre set the tone with 18 points and Shibuya’s offense clicked in a rout of the hosts.

Nine Sunrockers handed out two or more assists. Kenta Hirose led the way with five and Takashi Ito and Morihisa Yamauchi both had four.

Leo Vendrame and Tomoya Hasegawa scored 12 points apiece for Shibuya (25-27) and Josh Harrellson finished with 11. Yuki Mitsuhara and Minato Kikuchi both scored eight points.

D’or Fischer had a team-high 16 points for the Lakestars (18-34) and Faye Samba scored 15. Yusuke Karino knocked down four 3s for his 12 points, Venky Jois poured in nine points and Narito Namizato had seven points and 10 assists, while Tomonobu Hasegawa matched Namizato’s scoring output.

Hannaryz 73, Levanga 71

In Sapporo, Joshua Smith’s 32-point, 14-rebound, five-assist effort helped carry Kyoto past Hokkaido.

Yuya Nagayoshi and Tatsuya Ito each scored 10 points, with Ito also providing seven assists and four steals for the Hannaryz (32-20). Marcus Dove chipped in with seven points.

For the Levanga (25-27), Marc Trasolini led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Ryota Sakurai scored 19 points. Asahi Tajima added 10 points.

Albirex BB 88, Golden Kings 84

In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, despite some shaky free-throw shooting, the hosts capitalized on repeated trips to the line in a down-to-the-wire win over Ryukyu.

The Albirex (23-29) made 19 of 30 foul shots and got 22 points apiece from Kei Igarashi and Davante Gardner, the B. League’s leading scorer.

Gardner took the most trips to the line, where he converted 8 of 15 shots. He also pulled down 10 rebounds.

Igarashi sank 5 of 7 3s and doled out four assists.

Lamont Hamilton and Keita Imamura each had 14-point outings for Niigata, which led 66-48 after three quarters.

Hassan Martin, who fouled out, and Ira Brown led Ryukyu (39-13) with 15 points apiece. Takatoshi Furukawa, who was 1-for-8 on 3s, and Naoki Tashiro both had 14 points. Hilton Armstrong was the team leader in assists (six).

The Kings attempted more 3s (40, making 13) than 2-pointers (18-for-34). Like Furukawa, Ryuichi Kishimoto also missed seven of his eight long-range shots.

Ryukyu made 9 of 12 free throws.

Jets 106, Storks 76

In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, Michael Parker and Gavin Edwards scored 23 points apiece and the Jets pounded Nishinomiya.

The Storks (9-43) trailed 64-37 entering the fourth quarter.

Parker made 9 of 10 shots from the floor and snared nine rebounds.

Edwards was 10-for-11 shooting, including 3 of 3 from long range, pulled down nine boards and dished out seven assists. He also had two steals.

Yuki Togashi poured in 14 points for Chiba (39-13), Ryumo Ono had 13 and seven assists, Leo Lyons poured in 12 points and Kosuke Ishii contributed 11. Tomokazu Abe finished with five assists.

The Jets shot 60 percent overall, including 29 of 43 from inside the arc.

Herbert Hill paced the visitors with 20 points and 10 boards. Noriaki Dohara and Draelon Burns added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Diamond Dolphins 93, Alvark 92

In Tachikawa, Seiya Funyu grabbed an offensive rebound with 1 second remaining and scored a go-ahead, buzzer-beating putback as Nagoya escaped with a victory over Tokyo.

Takaya Sasayama missed an outside jumper with 2 seconds left in the game, and Funyu’s clutch plays secured the win for the Diamond Dolpins, who dominated the fourth quarter.

The Alvark (37-15) led 77-60 after three quarters.

Then the visitors rallied and ended the game on a 12-0 run.

Nagoya got 12 points from Craig Brackins in the fourth, eight from Justin Burrell, six from Jerome Tillman and five from Funyu. Brackins canned 2 of 3 3s in the last quarter, while Yoshiaki Fujinaga had four of his five assists in the period.

The Diamond Dolphins (26-26) outscored Tokyo 50-36 in the paint.

Burrell had a team-high 20 points and Sasayama poured in 17. Brackins had 14 points and Funyu 11. Tenketsu Harimoto chipped in with nine.

Alex Kirk led the Alvark with 28 points and 13 rebounds. He was 11 of 11 at the foul line. Jawad Williams finished with 16 points, Joji Takeuchi had 11 and Daiki Tanaka contributed 10 points and nine assists.

Tokyo lost despite shooting 23-for-25 at the line.

Nagoya dominated the fourth quarter and eked out a narrow victory over the hosts.

Second-division update

Here are the results of Saturday’s B2 games:

Firebonds 83, Big Bulls 74

Wat’s 107, Wyverns 87

Northern Happinets 77, Volters 73

Crane Thunders 90, Brave Warriors 76

Robots 56, Fighting Eagles 53

89ers 75, Five Arrows 68

Rizing 80, Bambitious 70

Orange Vikings 86, Samuraiz 74

Dragonflies 85, Earthfriends 66

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