Basketball

Jets cap comeback against Alvark in final second, book spot in Emperor's Cup final

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Chiba Jets Funabashi are returning to the Emperor’s Cup final.

To get there, it took an improbable chain of events ,but Chiba now has a shot at winning its third consecutive tournament crown.

Michael Parker nailed a game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds remaining against the Alvark Tokyo on Saturday night at Saitama Super Arena, giving the Jets a pulse-rising 80-79 semifinal triumph.

The Jets will face the Tochigi Brex, who defeated the Kyoto Hannaryz 71-62 in the other semifinal, in Sunday’s 94th All-Japan Basketball Championship final. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

Chiba trailed 79-75 with 1:07 to play after Tokyo center Alex Kirk sank a pair of free throws.

But the Jets rallied. Power forward Gavin Edwards made the second of two free-throw attempts with 58 seconds left to trim the lead to 79-76.

Parker scored a basket with 31 seconds remaining to make it 79-78.

The Alvark, the reigning B. League champions, then called a timeout.

Tokyo ran the clock down and Seiya Ando then missed a 2-point shot with 5 seconds left; in fact, it was blocked by Parker. The defensive rebound went to Chiba’s Kosuke Ishii, who passed the ball to Parker. He missed a shot, snared the offensive rebound and scored on a putback before the final buzzer.

Before the dramatic final sequence, the B. League East Division rivals staged an impressive shooting duel in the fourth quarter.

Yuki Togashi, who had eight of his 20 points in the final stanza, canned a catch-and-shoot baseline 3-pointer from the right corner off a pinpoint pass from Edwards with 3:29 to play. That gave Chiba a 72-71 lead.

Seconds later, Tokyo’s Daiki Tanaka made a 3 at the other end to put the Alvark in front 74-72.

And then Togashi buried another 3 to reverse the lead again.

What happened next?

Ando drained a 3-pointer for a 77-75 Tokyo lead with 2:26 remaining.

Edwards had 20 points to match Togashi, a former NBA Development League (now called the NBA G League) player, for the team-high total. Parker did it all in a banner performance (16 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, three blocks), while Josh Duncan contributed nine points.

For the Alvark, who led 45-41 at halftime, Kirk was the high scorer with 22 points and pulled down 11 boards. Tanaka and Yudai Baba each scored 14 points and Jawad Williams added 11. Baba finished with eight rebounds and Tanaka handed out five assists.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Togashi said, ” As a team, I think we won by doing what we had to do. Tomorrow, of course, I want to win. … I want to achieve the third consecutive victory with the support of the (boosters).”

Jets coach Atsushi Ono said that the team’s desire to win was a big factor in the final outcome.

Chiba has won 11 consecutive games, including eight in a row in the B. League entering the Emperor’s Cup midweek action.

Parker reflected on the thrilling victory in a post-game interview with The Japan Times.

“It was a great game all around,” Parker said. “We went up double digits (and) they fought back. The last three minutes had everything from amazing 3s to great defense. I was just glad to be a part of a special game like that.

“It feels great to be able to make the last shot to get the win but in basketball all the plays leading up to that is just as important. Aki (Chambers) had a great steal and got the ball to Gavin, who got the ball to me to score. After that, Gavin hit a free throw, then our team played great defense to get the ball back and I was just in position to make the last play.

“I’m just happy we won and the fans of Japanese basketball got to see such a hard fought and great game.”

Brex 71, Hannaryz 62

Tochigi outmuscled Kyoto to earn a spot in Sunday’s final.

The Brex grabbed 50 rebounds while holding the Hannaryz to 35. And it all added up to a possession game, one which favored Tochigi.

The Brex wound up taking 79 shots from the field, 25 more attempts than their opponent.

Yusuke Endo paced Tochigi with 18 points, Ryan Rossiter had 15 points, 12 rebounds (six offensive) and nine assists. Hironori Watanabe and Seiji Ikaruga both scored 10 points, with Watanabe handing out three assists and Ikaruga making three steals.

Brex leader Jeff Gibbs, who has often said he modeled his game after undersized Hall of Fame power forward Charles Barkley, made a big impact with seven points, 16 rebounds (eight offensive), four assists and a pair of steals.

Tochigi led 34-29 at halftime.

For Kyoto, David Simon finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Shaquille Morris had 14 points and 15 boards and Masaharu Kataoka and Tatsuya Ito each scored eight points. Ito also dished out six assists.