Basketball / B. League

Alvark hold on to beat Diamond Dolphins

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins faced a 17-point deficit entering the fourth quarter on Sunday against the host Alvark Tokyo.

This time, though, the Diamond Dolphins fell short of grabbing their second improbable win of the weekend.

Tokyo held on down the stretch despite a poor offensive performance in the final stanza, winning 73-63 at Arena Tachikawa Tachihi.

The Alvark improved to 38-15, even though they shot 0-for-8 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and were outscored 15-8 in the last 10 minutes as the gritty Diamond Dolphins sought to engineer another comeback win over coach Luka Pavicevic’s club.

Without breathing a big sigh of relief, Pavicevic addressed the fans a couple moments after the game concluded. He said: “You saw how difficult these two games were.”

Nagoya won the opener 93-92 on a last-second putback by Seiya Funyu.

In the rematch, the visitors pulled within 71-63 on a Takaya Sasayama 3-pointer with a little over a minute remaining, but didn’t score again.

The Diamond Dolphins held a 34-32 rebounding edge in the series opener. A day later, Tokyo dominated on the glass, outrebounding the out-of-towners 45-28, with Joji Takeuchi, who scored nine points, pulling down a team-high nine boards. Brendan Lane and Alex Kirk both had seven rebounds and Yudai Baba and Zack Baranski each corralled five.

What’s more, Tokyo held an 18-5 advantage on offensive rebounds. The Alvark capitalized by creating additional scoring opportunities. They had 14 second-chance points compared to the Diamond Dolphins’ four.

Signifying the importance of rebounding in this game, Pavicevic said, “Rebounding is always, as we coaches like to say, a measure of energy. If the team hits strong the boards like this, that means the team was really motivated.

“That’s always a big factor of the game, offensively to have them and defensively to stop them.”

Kirk led Tokyo, which shot 38.6 percent from the floor, with 12 points. Daiki Tanaka poured in 10 points and Baranski had nine. Seiya Ando and Genki Kojima both finished with eight points and Jawad Williams seven.

Justin Burrell paced Nagoya (26-27) with 23 points and 10 rebounds and handed out three assists, sharing the team lead in the latter category with Tenketsu Harimoto, who fouled out. Sasayama, who was 4-for-11 from the field, added 10 points and Craig Brackins had seven, while Funyu finished with six points.

Shooting guard Shuto Ando said the Diamond Dolphins’ comeback on Saturday — they trailed 77-60 entering the fourth quarter — reinvigorated the team and increased its confidence entering Sunday’s rematch. Looking back on it, he said, “the team was really grateful for the win.”

Nagoya coach Shingo Kajiyama praised the Alvark for their defensive effort throughout Sunday’s game.

“The Alvark played very physical, mentally tough, excellent defense,” Kajiyama said.

The visitors took a 23-22 lead into the second quarter. Burrell, a St. John’s University product, had the hot shooting touch in the early going. He led all scorers with nine first-quarter points, fueling Nagoya’s 7-0 run to open the game.

Tokyo took a 41-39 lead into halftime, with rebounding already becoming a big theme of the game’s unique traits. The Alvark held a 23-11 advantage at that point. Baranski was Tokyo’s top scorer in the opening half with six, while Burrell had 13.

The Alvark tightened up their defense on Burrell in the second half, though he still found the spots to operate in the low post and in the lane, driving aggressively to the basket on many occasions. He wowed the crowd on one such instance with a powerful reverse windmill jam, exploding past the defense on the baseline.

In the third quarter, the Tokyo offense heated up and Pavicevic’s club built a 65-48 cushion entering the fourth quarter.

Lane said picking up a win after a disappointing defeat was big for the team’s confidence.

“It’s really important,” he acknowledged in a post-game interview. “Just confidence-wise, we got up on them big again today, and in the fourth quarter they started making a run, and we didn’t want a repeat of what happened yesterday, so it was good for us to get a (defensive) stop and keep that game under control and get a win.”

Pavicevic said his team’s offense was in position to put a lot more points on the board in the fourth quarter. “I think we had like our best shooters open at least five, maybe even 10 times (in the quarter), so offensively that’s what we can hope to build good shots.”

The Alvark sank 12 of 19 free throws; the visitors knocked down 3 of 5.

Golden Kings 85, Albirex BB 68

In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, frontcourt dynamo Hassan Martin scored 27 points and corralled 11 rebounds and Naoki Tashiro poured in 14 points as Ryukyu recorded a bounce-back win over the hosts and wrapped up the West Division title.

Ira Brown had 12 points and nine rebounds and Ryuichi Kishimoto scored 11 points for the Golden Kings (40-13).

Ryukyu won the rebounding battle by a 46-28 margin.

Davante Gardner had 25 points and 10 boards for Niigata (23-20) and Lamont Hamilton finished with 21 points. Keita Imamura added 10 points and Kei Igarashi, who shot 2-for-12 from the field in a three-point outing, dished out seven assists.

B-Corsairs 90, Evessa 82

In Osaka, Yokohama’s offense erupted for 34 fourth-quarter points as the visitors salvaged a split of their weekend series.

Hasheem Thabeet had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the B-Corsairs (16-37), Jeff Parmer added 20 points and 11 boards and Takuya Kawamura also poured in 20 points, while William McDonald contributed 15 points and eight rebounds.

For the Evessa (20-33), Keith Benson had 16 points and seven boards and Xavier Gibson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Shota Konno scored 12 points, David Wear had 11 and Hiroyuki Kinoshita and Takuya Hashimoto both provided 10. Kinoshita was the assist leader with eight.

Hannaryz 73, Levanga 71

In Sapporo, Tatsuya Ito had 14 points and nine assists and five teammates also scored in double figures as Kyoto won its second game in as many days.

Masaharu Kataoka finished with 13 points for the Hannaryz (33-20).

Dijon Thompson and Marc Trasolini both had 13 points for Hokkaido (25-28) and Kohei Sekino scored 12. Thompson hauled in 11 rebounds to complete the double-double.

Lakestars 80, Sunrockers 74

In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Venky Jois’ team-best 17 points, Faye Samba’s 16-point afternoon and Tomonobu Hasegawa’s 11 points helped guide the Lakestars past Shibuya.

Narito Namizato contributed nine points and nine assists and Koyo Takahashi matched Namizato’s scoring output for Shiga (19-34), which dropped the series opener.

Josh Harrellson had 24 points and 13 boards for the Sunrockers (25-28) and Robert Sacre scored 18 points. Leo Vendrame and Kenta Hirose added 14 and nine points, respectively.

Brave Thunders 79, NeoPhoenix 67

In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Nick Fazekas delivered a 30-point, 17-rebound performance as Kawasaki beat San-en for the second day in a row.

Fazekas made 14 of 18 shots from the floor.

Naoto Tsuji chipped in with 10 points and 10 assists and Ryusei Shinoyama added eight points and eight assists, while Josh Davis scored 13 points for the Brave Thunders (36-17).

Wendell White sparked the NeoPhoenix (23-30) with 25 points and five assists, while teammates Atsuya Ota and Shuto Tawatari both had 10 points.

SeaHorses 99, Susanoo Magic 85

In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Ryoma Hashimoto scored 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting and Makoto Hiejima poured in 15 as the hosts cruised past Shimane and extended their winning streak to three.

Keijuro Matsui had 12 points and J.R. Sakuragi contributed 12 points, eight boards and six assists for Mikawa (44-9). SeaHorses center Isaac Butts added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Al Thornton led Shimane (8-45) with 26 points and Takuya Soma had 16 points and 10 assists. Gyno Pomare and Kimitake Sato scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Brex 69, Grouses 65

In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, the Brex shot only 28.8 percent from the floor, but found a way to hold off Toyama and secure a series sweep.

Tochigi (30-23) converted 21 of 26 free throws and outrebounded the visitors 48-31.

Ryan Rossiter ignited the Brex with 19 points and seven rebounds. Shusuke Ikuhara scored 14 points, Kosuke Takeuchi added nine points and 10 boards and Jeff Gibbs chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds.

For the Grouses (22-31), Dexter Pittman had 16 points and Sam Willard provided 12 points and nine boards. Naoaki Hashimoto scored 14 points and Yuto Otsuka 11.

Jets 85, Storks 69

In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, the hosts took a 41-27 lead into the third quarter and cruised past Nishinomiya for the second straight day.

Yuki Togashi had 18 points and Michael Parker continued his hot shooting of late with 17 points (7-for-9 from the floor) and grabbed 10 rebounds. Aki Chambers added 13 points and Leo Lyons 11 for the Jets (40-13). Gavin Edwards finished with 11 points and 12 boards.

Yu Okada paced the Storks (9-44) with 16 points and Herbert Hill had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Second-division update

Here are the results of Sunday’s B2 games:

Five Arrows 79, 89ers 70

Dragonflies 89, Earthfriends 85

Crane Thunders 75, Brave Warriors 614

Robots 106, Fighting Eagles 86

Rizing Zephyr 82, Bambitious 64

Northern Happinets 80, Volters 67

Firebonds 86, Big Bulls 81

Orange Vikings 93, Samuraiz 83

Wat’s 94, Wyverns 75