When the Tochigi Brex are in sync on offense, they are a very dangerous team.
The nucleus of their 2016-17 B. League championship team remains intact, and they proved again on Sunday that they are among the teams in any legitimate discussion about title contenders this season.
After one quarter on Sunday, Tochigi led 30-6 against the Shiga Lakestars. By the end of the game, not much had changed except for the final score: Tochigi 98, Shiga 61.
The win gave the Brex a split in their two-game set against the Lakestars at Brex Arena Utsunomiya.
The lopsided victory also improved coach Ryuzo Anzai team’s record to 10-2, which puts the Brex in a tie for the best record in the 18-team top division with the Chiba Jets Funabashi, an East Division rival, and the Ryukyu Golden Kings and Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in the West Division.
Sunday’s success story was fueled by the all-around dynamic play of veteran forward Ryan Rossiter, who notched a triple-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists.
Yusuke Endo poured in 22 points, flushing 5 of 6 3-point attempts, and Jeff Gibbs scored 13 points, with Ryo Yamazaki netting 12 points. Hironori Watanabe added 11 points of his own, while Kosuke Takeuchi contributed nine points and 11 boards and Seiji Ikaruga had 10 points.
For Shiga (3-9), Gani Lawal provided 21 points and 10 rebounds and D’or Fischer had a 12-point outing.
Jets 78, Sunrockers 70
In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, the hosts flourished on key offensive opportunities in the lane and held off Shibuya to complete a weekend sweep.
Michael Parker led the Jets with 15 points along with nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Yuki Togashi chipped in with 13 points and six assists and Gavin Edwards and Josh Duncan both scored 10 points.
Chiba amassed an important 28-18 edge in in-the-paint scoring.
Ryan Kelly was the high scorer for the Sunrockers (2-10). Leo Vendrame put 16 points on the board, including four 3-point shots, with Robert Sacre adding 15 points and eight rebounds.
Levanga 88, NeoPhoenix 75
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Spanish big man David Doblas notched his fifth double-double of the ongoing campaign, scoring a season-best 29 points on 14-for-19 shooting and snaring 10 rebounds as Hokkaido earned a bounce-back victory over the hosts.
Marc Trasolini poured in 26 points and hauled in nine rebounds for the Levanga (4-8) and Ryota Sakurai contributed eight points, while Yoshitake Matsushima delivered seven assists for the victors, who ended a five-game losing streak.
In a post-game interview, Hokkaido coach Jose Neto, in his first season at the helm, analyzed the difference between the series opener on Saturday (an 86-80 NeoPhoenix win) and Sunday’s rematch.
“We did not do a good (job on) defense on Saturday and when we do not play well on defense, we have more possibility to lose the game,” Neto told The Japan Times. “The opposite is true and we could see that in the last quarter on Saturday’s game and the first half of Sunday’s game. Since the first day I arrived here in Japan, I said that it is crucial to play well on defense if we want to achieve our goals in the season.”
He continued: “I believe the team is understanding this and is striving to do this. We are aware that it is important to win, but for this, we need to be prepared to win. We have the focus adjusted to our goal of the season and we are improving as a team with each game, despite the difficulties. I believe in the potential of our team and we will continue to work hard to achieve our goals.”
For San-en (4-8), William McDonald filled the stat sheet with 20 points and 17 boards and Robert Dozier had 10 points, with Shingo Okada and Shuto Terazono both scoring eight points.
The NeoPhoenix misfired on 16 of 20 3-point attempts.
Brave Thunders 83, Evessa 80
In Osaka, Kawasaki collected its second narrow victory in less than 24 hours against the Evessa after Saturday’s 81-80 nailbiter.
This time, Nick Fazekas ignited the visitors with 24 points and fellow ex-NBA big man Vernon Macklin had eight points and 12 boards.
Naoto Tsuji added 15 points and six assists and Yuma Fujii supplied 14 points and six assists for Kawasaki (7-5).
Josh Harrellson had 23 points and seven rebounds and Xavier Gibson contributed 18 and eight for Osaka (4-8). Soichiro Fujitaka finished with 13 points.
SeaHorses 91, Grouses 72
In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Mikawa scored its first basket at the 7:42 mark of the first quarter to make it 2-2 and maintained its grip on the lead for the remainder of the 40-minute contest, routing Toyama and extending its winning streak to seven.
SeaHorses perimeter marksman Kosuke Kanamaru drained 8 of 12 3s in a 33-point performance (including that first hoop) a day after he dropped 31 on the Grouses. James Southerland added 24 points, including five dunks, and seven rebounds. Team leader J.R. Sakuragi contributed 11 points, 11 boards and six assists for Mikawa (7-5).
Seiya Funyu scored 16 points for Toyama (7-5), Leo Lyons and Joshua Smith had 13 apiece and Naoki Uto ended up with 10.
Albirex BB 87, B-Corsairs 63
In Yokohama, reigning scoring champion Davante Gardner boosted Niigata’s chances in a big way with a 35-point, 13-rebound outing and Lamont Hamilton had 17 points and 11 rebounds as the out-of-towners completed a two-game sweep.
Kei Igarashi chipped in with 18 points and seven assists and Yuki Ueta and Jun Uzawa each scored eight points for the Albirex (8-4).
Led by Gardner, Niigata dominated inside, outscoring Yokohama 46-28 in the paint.
Takuya Kawamura had 15 points and six assists for the B-Corsairs (3-9) and Masashi Hosoya matched Kawamura’s scoring output. Amanze Egekeze added 13 points on 5-for-16 shooting and center Prince Ibeh, appearing in his second B. League contest, contributed six points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
Diamond Dolphins 84, Northern Happinets 68
In Akita, Nagoya seized control in the second quarter en route to locking up back-to-back wins against the hosts.
The Diamond Dolphins scored 34 second-quarter points and held Akita to 11. Which gave them a 50-35 advantage at the break.
Tenketsu Harimoto led Nagoya with 19 points and Taito Nakahigashi and Shuto had 18 apiece. Ryota Kobayashi handed out eight assists with zero turnovers.
Justin Keenan paced the Northern Happinets (3-9) with 30 points and 10 rebounds and Ryosuke Shirahama had 11 points. Akita shot 34.7 percent from the floor.
Here are Sunday’s B2 scores:
Robots 86, Wyverns 72
Volters 87, Earthfriends 79
Fighting Eagles 92, Bee Trains 70
Susanoo Magic 85, Firebonds 75
Dragonflies 67, Crane Thunders 64
Wat’s 69, Bambitious 66
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5