Basketball / B. League

Ryukyu delivers impressive defensive effort against Nagoya in The Terrific 12 semifinals

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Ryukyu Golden Kings jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter and played stellar defense against the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins throughout the game in The Terrific 12 semifinals on Saturday in Macau.

With a 66-48 victory, the Golden Kings advanced to Sunday’s final. Coach Norio Sassa’s club will face China’s Guangzhou Long Lions, which defeated South Korea’s Seoul Samsung Thunders 88-74 in the later semifinal, in the tournament finale.

Fifteen seconds into the contest, veteran guard Ryuichi Kishimoto buried a 3-pointer on Ryukyu’s opening possession to put his team in front. A Takatoshi Furukawa jumper increased the lead to 7-0 at the 8:41 mark.

The Golden Kings led 19-5 after the first quarter.

Moments later, a Narito Namizato putback put Ryukyu ahead 21-8.

Nagoya trailed 36-23 at halftime.

Ryukyu outrebounded its B. League rival 60-53 in the preseason clash. What’s more, the Golden Kings held the Diamond Dolphins to 16-for-62 shooting from the floor.

“For us, we always rely on our defense,” Ryukyu big man Josh Scott said on the court in a TV interview after the game, “and we really like playing with one another. So it makes our job easier.”

Scott, a University of Colorado alum, had a strong all-around game, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and three assists. He played for the Shimane Susanoo Magic last season.

Former NBA forward Jeff Ayres, who suited up for the Alvark Tokyo during the 2016-17 campaign, added 16 points, nine boards and two blocks for the Kings. Namizato contributed six points, five rebounds and five assists, while Furukawa and Takumi Ishizaki both matched Namizato’s scoring output.

Nagoya’s Markeith Cummings had 18 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, and 14 rebounds and Craig Brackins scored nine points and grabbed 10 boards. Teammate Ryota Kobayashi poured in seven points.

In the loss, the Diamond Dolphins sank 10 of 25 free throws.