Basketball / B. League

Grouses fly high as B. League’s opening round concludes

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

In a 40-minute game, topping the century mark in points often requires a team to be in sync on offense.

Having several noteworthy offensive performances usually helps, too.

The Toyama Grouses raced out to a 34-12 lead after one quarter, and held a 61-30 advantage at halftime in a 101-77 victory over the visiting Yokohama B-Corsairs on Sunday to close out the season’s first weekend with a crowd-pleasing performance.

Toyama, led by first-year head coach Don Beck, improved to 2-0 in the young season with another standout offensive effort by center Joshua Smith, who had 25 points, making 11 of 14 shots and 18 rebounds. On Saturday, the ex-Georgetown University player opened the season with a jaw-dropping 39-point outing (17 of 19 on shot attempts).

A day later, the Grouses offense thrived inside by getting Smith touches early and often.

Smart decision.

Smith had 12 points in the first quarter. He was 6-for-6 in the tone-setting opening stanza. By halftime, he had 18 points.

It was an across-the-board effort. Five Toyama players had three or more assists, including Naoki Uto with five. Leo Lyons added 22 points and nine rebounds and Yuto Otsuka scored 19 points for the Grouses, who also got 12 points from Seiya Funyu and eight points from Takeshi Mito.

Charles Garcia scored 21 points and pulled down seven boards for the B-Corsairs. Takuya Kawamura had 20 points and six assists, Ryo Tawatari netted 11 points and newcomer Javon McCrea, a University of Buffalo alum, contributed 10 points and five boards in his Yokohama debut.

Hannaryz 93, NeoPhoenix 88

In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, a pivotal 8-0 run in the fourth quarter helped Kyoto secure a bounce-back victory over San-en for their first win of the new season.

Newcomer David Simon led Kyoto with 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting, Tatsuya Ito supplied 23 points and five assists and returning standout Julian Mavunga had 19 points and 12 boards. Shun Watanuki added 12 points.

Kyoto drained 20 of 28 free throws; San-en made 7 of 9.

Analyzing the victory for reporters afterward, longtime Hannaryz coach Honoo Hamaguchi cited an increase in rebounds and a decrease in turnovers from the series opener as important statistics.

William McDonald had 20 points and nine rebounds and Hayato Kawashima scored 16 to lead a NeoPhoenix offensive attack that had five double-digit scorers.

Lakestars 75, Albirex BB 71

In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, the hosts jumped out to a 23-11 lead by the end of the opening quarter and held to salvage a series split with Niigata.

Second-year Lakestars bench boss Shawn Dennis received potent production from Yusuke Karino, who ignited the offense with 26 points, including 5-for-11 from downtown. Big men Gani Lawal (16 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks) and D’or Fischer (15 points, 16 boards) also had big games, while reserve point guard Kohei Ninomiya chipped in with nine assists in 25-plus minutes. Shiga also won the rebounding battle 43-35.

Veteran post player Lamont Hamilton had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Albirex. Fan favorite Kei Igarashi, who’s been described as the Justin Timberlake of Japan pro basketball due to the outpouring of adoration from female supporters over the years, provided 22 points and five assists. Davante Gardner, meanwhile, struggled with his shot, making 6 of 22 in a 19-point effort.

Levanga 70, Evessa 53

In Sapporo, Hokkaido clamped down defensively on Osaka, holding its foe to 24 second-half points and earning its first victory of the 2018-19 campaign.

Marc Trasolini spearheaded the Levanga effort at both ends of the floor with 25 points and 10 rebounds. David Doblas had 13 points and 16 rebounds and Kohei Sekino scored 10 points, with Yoshitake

Matsushima dishing out seven assists.

Evessa big man Josh Harrellson had 15 points and eight rebounds, Faye Pape Mour scored 11 points and guard Shunki Hatakeyama finished with nine points.

Osaka shot 30.6 percent (19 of 62) in the loss.

Brex 82, Rizing Zephyr 73

In Fukuoka, frontcout stalwart Ryan Rossiter’s 29-point, nine-rebound performance helped carry Tochigi past Fukuoka to complete a weekend sweep.

Rossiter sank 8 of 10 foul shots. Yusuke Endo chipped in with 19 points and Jeff Gibbs made his mark

with eight points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block. Yuta Tabuse added seven points and four assists and Hironori Watanabe provided seven points and six assists.

For the Rizing Zephyr, former NBA center Dexter Pittman had 20 points and seven rebounds and Eric Jacobsen finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Masashi Joho had 11 points and Daisuke Kobayashi contributed seven points and five assists.

After two weekend wins, Tabuse said the Brex possess a determination to keep improving.

“We will continue to fight the challenges that have emerged in these two games,” Tabuse told reporters.

Golden Kings 71, Northern Happinets 66

In Akita, balanced scoring, a Ryukyu trademark, played a key role in the team’s second triumph in two days over the hosts.

Narito Namizato led the way with 17 points and eight assists and Josh Scott notched a double-double (13 points, 10 boards) for the Golden Kings. Takatoshi Furukawa and Ryuichi Kishimoto contributed 10 and

nine points, respectively for Ryukyu, which led 41-27 at intermission.

Shota Onodera had 17 points, including 4 of 8 on 3s, for Akita. Justin Keenan added 15 points and seven boards and Takuya Nakayama dished out 11 assists, but had five turnovers. Kadeem Coleby swatted five shots after rejecting three in the series opener.

Diamond Dolphins 96, SeaHorses 93

In Nagoya, Mikawa’s spirited fourth-quarter comeback fell short as the hosts improved to 2-0.

Small forward James Southerland’s 16 points in the fourth ignited the comeback. The SeaHorses had 31 points in the final period to overcome a slow start offensively.

For Nagoya, Markeith Cummings scored 24 points and Shuto Ando poured in 13. Tenketsu Harimoto buried 3 of 3 3s in an efficient nine-point outing. As a team, the Diamond Dolphins sank an impressive 15 of 26 3s, with four players making three apiece.

Kosuke Kanamaru put 24 points on the board for the perennial title-chasing SeaHorses. Isaac Butts corralled a dozen rebounds and Sunao Murakami doled out six assists. J.R. Sakuragi added eight points, 12 rebounds and six assists, while Keijuro “K.J.” Matsui also scored eight points.

Alvark 87, Sunrockers 79

In Tachikawa, reigning champion Tokyo got a big boost from veteran forward Jawad Williams, who came off the bench and scored a team-high 19 points, in its second win in as many days over Kanto rival Shibuya.

The Alvark got solid production from several players, including Joji Takeuchi (14 points, seven boards), Seiya Ando (13 points, seven assists), Alex Kirk (12 points, eight rebounds), Yudai Baba (10 points, six rebounds) and Takeki Shonaka (nine points, 3-for-4 shooting).

Tokyo converted 9 of 19 3-point shots and outrebounded the Sunrockers 35-26 in a game that was only tied once. The Alvark had a share of the lead from start to finish.

Coach Luka Pavicevic’s club finished strong, outscoring the visitors 25-16 in the fourth.

Ryan Kelly, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher’s son-in-law, paced Shibuya with 25 points and pulled down 10 boards.

Frontcourt mate Robert Sacre had 19 points and Leo Vendrame put 12 on the board.

Second-division update

Here are the results of Sunday’s B2 games:

Susanoo Magic 73, Wyverns 68

Firebonds 85, Five Arrows 69

Dragonflies 86, Bambitious 59

Robots 75, Samuraiz 64

Brave Warriors 97, Wat’s 74*

Fighting Eagles 114, Bee Trains 77

Volters 80, Orange Vikings 75

*Milestones: In Shinshu’s victory, Japan hoop legend Anthony McHenry grabbed his 3,000th career defensive rebound and 4,000th overall board.