Basketball / B. League

Nick Fazekas leads Brave Thunders to team win over NeoPhoenix

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Franchise cornerstone Nick Fazekas delivered a big, bold reminder about his importance to the Kawasaki Brave Thunders on Sunday afternoon.

It was, however, far from a one-man show for the B. League Central Division club.

Fazekas, a former league MVP, and his teammates thrived in unison in an 84-75 victory over the visiting San-en NeoPhoenix in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Kawasaki (24-16) completed a series sweep as Fazekas provided game-high totals in points (30) and rebounds (15). The former University of Nevada great also handed out six assists.

Ryusei Shinoyama poured in 17 points and dished out five assists. Yuma Fujii provided 15 points and 16 assists, with Vernon Macklin chipping in with 12 points.

Starters Fazekas, Shinoyama, Fujii and Macklin all reached double figures in points. Takumi Hasegawa, who rounded out the starting five, was 0-for-7 from the field in a scoreless outing.

Fujii excelled in the pivotal fourth quarter, sparking his team with an electric 13-point effort in the period.

Fazekas, meanwhile, set the tone in the opening stanza with 14 of the team’s 20 total points to usher in the game.

Kawasaki led 39-36 at halftime.

The Brave Thunders applied pressure defense late in the game and it paid off. For instance, Fujii made a steal and scored on a breakaway layup to extend the lead to 79-67 with about 1:50 remaining.

Josh Childress paced the NeoPhoenix (17-23) with 24 points and eight boards. Hayato Kawashima added 15 points, Shuto Tawatari scored 10 and Tatsuya Suzuki had nine points and eight assists.

Alvark 70, Lakestars 65

In Tachikawa, the reigning champions are hitting their stride and closed out the weekend with their seventh consecutive victory by topping Shiga.

Coach Luka Pavicevic’s squad held the Lakestars to 38 points in the first 30 minutes and took a 12-point lead into the final period.

Alex Kirk notched a double-double (19 points, 11 boards) and Seiya Ando poured in 18 points for Tokyo (28-12). Milko Bjelica scored 15 points and Joji Takeuchi snared 10 rebounds.

For Shiga (8-32), Koyo Takahashi had 20 points and Gani Lawal added 19 points and 18 rebounds.

“As a result of fighting hard for 40 minutes, we were able to win,” said Pavicevic, who added that he’s looking forward to the upcoming two-week international break before B. League teams resume the regular season in March.

Said Ando: “I am relieved we were able to win seven consecutive games before the bye week.”

Diamond Dolphins 92, Hannaryz 83

In Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, Craig Brackins’ 24-point, eight-rebound performance and Shuto Ando’s 20 points sparked Nagoya in a bounce-back win over Kyoto.

Ando knocked down 5 of 7 3-pointers in the series finale.

Markeith Cummings added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Diamond Dolphins (22-18).

Julian Mavunga paced the Hannaryz (22-18) with 26 points and seven assists. David Simon had 24 points and nine boards and Tatsuya Ito scored 13 points for Kyoto.

Brex 92, Sunrockers 79

In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, balanced scoring was one big factor in the hosts’ second win in as many days over Shibuya.

Fiery leader Jeff Gibbs provided 18 points and seven rebounds, newcomer Makoto Hiejima netted 14 points and Ryan Rossiter exhibited his all-around skills in a 13-point, nine-rebound and seven-assist performance for Tochigi (32-8).

Five Brex players finished with 10 or more points.

Ryan Kelly led the Sunrockers (18-22) with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Robert Sacre had 17 points and nine boards, while Leo Vendrame scored 14 points.

Rizing Zephyr 80, B-Corsairs 64

In Fukuoka, coach Bob Nash’s club went back to the drawing board and emphasized getting the ball to its big men frequently on Sunday against Yokohama.

Fukuoka center Dexter Pittman made the move pay off, scoring a game-best 33 points, and frontcourt mate Benjamin Lawson had 25 points on 12-for-14 shooting (including four dunks) and 11 rebounds. Masashi Joho helped pushed the inside and contributed seven points and five assists for the Rizing Zephyr (10-30).

Takuya Kawamura paced the B-Corsairs (11-29) with 25 points and Brandon Costner scored 21.

Yokohama shot 2 of 12 on 3s.

Grouses 100, Evessa 72

In Toyama, Leo Lyons sparked the hosts with 28 points and All-Star Game MVP Yuto Otsuka poured in 19 as they completed a series sweep of Osaka.

Playmaker Naoki Uto handed out six assists for the Grouses (21-19). Joshua Smith, Toyama’s inside anchor, scored 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting and collected nine rebounds.

Naoya Kumagae had 21 points and Trevor Mbakwe provided 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Evessa (15-25). Shunki Hatakeyama added 11 points and eight assists.

Albirex BB 84, Levanga 60

In Sapporo, Davante Gardner put 27 points on the board as his team thrived on outside shooting in a lopsided win over Hokkaido, wrapping up a series sweep.

Eight Albirex players made one or more 3-point shots, and the team finished 13 of 30 from long range.

Lamont Hamilton had 17 points and shared the team lead in rebounds (nine) with Gardner. Shinsuke Kashiwagi added 11 points for Niigata (29-11).

Marc Trasolini finished with 19 points and nine boards for the Levanga (10-30), while Takehiko Orimo had 13 points.

SeaHorses 85, Northern Happinets 58

In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Kosuke Kanamaru topped the scoring chart with 20 points as the hosts blew out Akita in the series opener.

J.R. Sakuragi, one of five SeaHorses to score in double digits, chipped in with 13 points and Isaac Butts pulled down 12 rebounds for Mikawa (21-18).

Dwight Coleby led the Happinets (13-26) with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Kadeem Coleby, Dwight’s older brother, contributed 12 points and Ryuto Yasuoka scored nine points.

The series finale is set for Monday afternoon.

Golden Kings 79, Jets 67

In Okinawa City, swingman Yutaro Suda scored a season-high 12 points and Kevin Jones finished with 11 points and nine boards as Ryukyu snapped a five-game losing streak by avenging Saturday’s defeat to Chiba.

Suda picked up most of his points from long range, draining 3 of 3 from beyond the arc.

Takatoshi Furukawa scored 10 points, as did Narito Namizato, who dished out six assists for the Golden Kings (25-15). Veteran big Jeff Ayres added nine points and 11 rebounds.

Josh Duncan had 14 points and 10 boards for the Jets (33-7), Shigehiro Taguchi scored 13 and Fumio Nishimura had 11 points. Gavin Edwards added nine points on a day in which the Jets were held to 34.9 percent shooting, uncharacteristically low for coach Atsushi Ono’s club.