Basketball / B. League

B-Corsairs run out of steam in loss to Sunrockers

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Yokohama B-Corsairs played a stellar first half on Sunday afternoon, building a sizable lead against the Sunrockers Shibuya.

Facing a 15-point deficit, the hosts then regrouped at halftime and responded to the challenge of replicating the B-Corsairs’ first-half intensity. Yokohama, on the other hand, failed to sustain their energy and could not perform at the same level over the final 20 minutes at Aoyama Gakuin University Memorial Hall.

It all added up to a 77-73 Shibuya victory, new Sunrockers bench boss Tsutomu Isa’s first since being appointed as fired coach Geoffrey Katsuhisa’s successor on Friday.

Former NBA center Robert Sacre scored 13 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 11 rebounds for Shibuya. Ryan Kelly added 18 points, while Leo Vendrame had 12 with seven assists. Yusei Sugiura poured in eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Morihisa Yamauchi was the only other Sunrocker to also sink a 3 as they finished 3 of 25 from beyond the arc.

The Sunrockers were more efficient in their frequent trips to the free-throw line, where they converted 20 of 25 attempts. The B-Corsairs made 3 of 7.

It was a reversal of fortune for the teams. In Saturday’s contest, an 84-79 Yokohama triumph, the visitors sank 25 of 32 fouls shots, while Shibuya made 6 of 10.

Isa smiled while speaking about his players’ resilience and spirited defense that defined their second-half performance. The former Ryukyu Golden Kings head coach stated that Vendrame’s second-half showing was a key to the Shibuya comeback as it energized his teammates. The veteran coach also said that “strong defense in the second half was a key to the win.”

After trailing 51-36 at halftime, the Sunrockers tightened up their defense in the third quarter. They held the visitors to six points over the next 10 minutes and scored 16.

Entering the fourth quarter, the B-Corsairs were ahead 57-52

As the home crowd cheered them on, the Sunrockers continued their comeback attempt in the final stanza, and Shibuya used a 10-0 spurt to take a 62-59 lead on a pair of Kelly free throws. A Sacre basket with about 6:50 to play had given the Sunrockers their first advantage (60-59) since the first quarter.

The B-Corsairs trailed for the remainder of the game. They got as close as 70-68 on a Takuya Kawamura 3-pointer near the 2-minute mark, but couldn’t get back on top as Shibuya (2-8) snapped a six-game losing streak

“It was a really disappointing loss,” Yokohama coach Tom Wisman said. “Really a lapse by a team that didn’t understand the desperation that a team is going to play with when they need a win.

“We got too happy at halftime. We played very well in the first half and thought we had the ball game won, and our guard play in the second half against pressure was just (not effective). We got some bad calls, definitely, but we collapsed under the pressure of their increased defense…”

He added: “We lost because we didn’t handle their intensity, their pressure.”

B-Corsairs rookie forward Amanze Egekeze said his team can learn from the disappointment of Sunday’s defeat. He didn’t dwell on the notion that his team entered the second half with too much confidence.

“I think it’s easy to say that, but it’s basketball and we see it happen a lot. It’s just human nature,” Egekeze said. “You get up and you’re playing well and feeling good, but we see it time and time again in years and years of basketball: the team that’s desperate tends to get the energy going, especially with them being at home.

Egekeze continued his critique of the contest by saying, “A lot of things started to go their way in the second half, and then when you’re playing with a lead sometimes you don’t play not to lose instead of just doing what got you there. … (The biggest difference) was not executing as well in the first half, specifically defensively, getting rebounds and boxing out.”

Kelly admitted the victory could serve as a building block for his club at it strives to rise in the standings after a disappointing start to the season.

“Obviously I think it was weighing on us,” Kelly said. “Losing was weighing on us and we were fighting off accepting losing, and going into games feeling like we are going to have a tough time to win, we’re going to have a tough time to beat the other team.”

Which is why Shibuya’s big second-half comeback — the hosts trailed by as many as 22 points in the second quarter as Yokohama went on a 20-4 run to take a 46-24 lead — was not something many observers in the arena would have predicted.

“For us to overcome a big deficit in a game where a team got hot and started hitting some tough shots, for us to continue to fight through that shows that we still have that will to win,” Kelly said. “We’re not going to win every game, but you’ve got to come into every game with that desire and that will, and we did today.”

Guard Masashi Hosoya led the B-Corsairs with 19 points, 17 of which he scored in an electrifying second quarter. Hosoya sank 4 of 5 3s in the period and both of his shots from 2-point range. He was the game’s leading scorer by halftime, but was not a big factor in the second half.

Egekeze scored 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds and Kawamura and Javon McCrea each had 10 points before fouling out.

Grouses 98, Northern Happinets 80

In Toyama, balanced scoring powered sideline supervisor Don Beck’s squad past Akita.

Six Grouses players finished with double digits on the scoreboard, including Leo Lyons (18 points), Naoki Uto (16, five assists) and Joshua Smith (15 points, 7-for-7 from the floor, and 11 rebounds).

The hosts shot 67.3 percent from the floor (33 of 49) en route to their second win in as many days.

Tomokazu Abe added four points to help spearhead the Toyama defense.

Justin Keenan had 23 points and six steals for the Northern Happinets (3-7) and Nyika Williams scored 14 points.

Akita was 12 of 23 at the foul line.

NeoPhoenix 91, Albirex BB 72

In Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, San-en scored 51 second-half points and salvaged a series split with the hosts.

Robert Dozier’s 23-point, eight-rebound performance and Shuto Terazono’s season-best 16 points helped the NeoPhoenix (3-7) get back on track. Shuto Tawatari also scored 16 points and William McDonald had 14 points and nine boards.

Davante Gardner carried the Albirex (6-4) with 35 points and 16 rebounds and Jun Uzawa had 15 points.

Hannaryz 79, Alvark 70

In Kyoto, coach Honoo Hamaguchi’s club rebounded from a Saturday loss by controlling the first half and holding on for a bounce-back triumph over the defending champions.

David Simon poured in 25 points and Kevin Hareyama scored 18 points and corralled eight boards for the Hannaryz (6-4). Floor leader Julian Mavunga had an efficient game with 14 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, while Shingo Utsumi contributed nine points.

Tokyo’s Yudai Baba finished with 17 points and four steals. Joji Takeuchi and Seiya Ando added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Alvark (8-2).

Brex 86, Levanga 72

In Sapporo, Tochigi dominated the fourth quarter and cruised to a series-opening win.

Jeff Gibbs energized the Brex (8-1) with 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. He sank 11 of 12 free throws. Tochigi forward Ryan Rossiter added 18 points, nine boards and five assists, with Hironori Watanabe contributing 16 points and five assists.

Marc Trasolini led Hokkaido (3-6) with 27 points and 11 rebounds and Asahi Tajima scored eight points.

The teams square off again on Monday.

Diamond Dolphins 91, Rizing Zephyr 88

In Nagoya, Markeith Cummings, a Kennesaw (Georgia) State product, ignited the hosts with 35 points, including 13-for-13 at the foul line, and Shuto Ando knocked down six 3s in a 20-point outing as they defeated Fukuoka for the second straight day.

Dexter Pittman finished with 31 points for the Rizing Zephyr and nearly equaled Cummings’ effort at the line. He made 12 of 13.

Benjamin Lawson and Masashi Joho each scored 14 points for Fukuoka (0-10) and Shota Tsuyama had 10 and handed out six assists.

Jets 77, Evessa 63

In Osaka, Chiba out-muscled the hosts on the boards and completed a series sweep.

The Jets out-rebounded the Evessa 41-33, getting a team-high 10 boards from Michael Parker.

Yuki Togashi had 15 points and eight assists for Chiba (8-2) and Josh Duncan and Parker chipped in with 14 points apiece.

Osaka (6-4) made 3 of 22 3-point attempts.

Rei Goda and Faye Pape Mour both scored 17 points for the Evessa, with the latter also pulling down 11 rebounds. Shunki Hatakeyama made five steals in the loss.

SECOND DIVISION UPDATE

Here are the results of Sunday’s B2 games:

Earthfriends 88, Samuraiz 77

Wat’s 98, Volters

Five Arrows 88, Wyverns 82

Orange Vikings 85, Bambitious 70*

Fighting Eagles 84, Brave Warriors 75

Bee Trains 75, 89ers 74

Dragonflies 83, Susanoo Magic 75

Storks 99, Firebonds 78

Crane Thunders 78, Robots 61

Noteworthy: Bambitious Nara forward Gary Hamilton set a B2 single-game record with 14 assists against the Ehime Orange Vikings on Sunday. The University of Miami alum added 21 points and 14 rebounds to notch a triple-double.