Basketball / B. League

Josh Duncan leads Jets to win over B-Corsairs

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

With 44 games in the books, there aren’t any big surprises remaining regarding the Chiba Jets Funabashi’s roster and playing style.

They are built to win now, and they execute at a high level at both ends of the court.

Blessed with a deep bench and versatility, Jets coach Atsushi Ono’s team also possesses the ability to turn it up a notch and put a game out of reach.

That invaluable skill was on display in the fourth quarter against the Yokohama B-Corsairs on Sunday afternoon.

Moments after a 9-0 spurt had put Yokohama ahead by two points early in the stanza, the Jets turned the tide with a ruthless 13-0 run, securing an 87-76 victory over the B-Corsairs.

With 5:52 to play, Josh Duncan’s putback and free throw initiated the decisive run.

Backup guard Fumio Nishimura drilled a big 3-pointer from the left wing to extend the lead to seven (79-72), and the Jets started to hit their stride again. After a Nishimura steal, Gavin Edwards converted a layup. When the run finally ended, Chiba led 85-72 with 1:57 left.

Ryo Tawatari ended the run and Yokohama’s cold spell of nearly five minutes with a layup at the 1:15 mark.

Duncan capped the win with a dunk with 82 seconds remaining.

Chiba, which has the best record in the B. League first division (37-7), completed a two-game sweep at Yokohama International Swimming Pool, getting big performances from several players. Duncan had team-high totals in points (20) and rebounds (10, including five offensive boards). Yuki Togashi poured in 17 points, knocking down 4 of 8 3s and making three steals. Michael Parker added 16 points and finished the two-game series with a jaw-dropping 21-for-27 shooting from the floor. Nishimura came off the bench and drained 4 of 5 3s in an electrifying 14-point performance, while Edwards patrolled the middle on defense and chipped in with seven points and eight boards.

To their credit, the B-Corsairs (12-32) played better defensively than in Saturday’s 110-83, but couldn’t maintain the same focus and intensity as the Jets down the stretch before a packed house of 4,702 fans.

After the game, Duncan, a Xavier University alum, said his team must maintain its focus from start to finish.

He said the closer margin of victory was a reminder to the Jets that “we have to be ready every game because just because it goes one way in the first game, it could be completely different the next day.”

“They made a little run and made it close there toward the end of the game,” Duncan said of Yokohama. “But our team, I’m proud of our guys because we’ve been in a situation a few times before and we stayed poised, didn’t get rattled, kept fighting until the end and made that big run that put us up a little bit and ended up getting the victory.”

Ono commended Duncan for producing a double-double and said the veteran forward “maximized his playing time” on Sunday.

“We competed today and defensively we were much better,” Yokohama bench boss Tom Wisman said. “We gave ourselves a chance, got into a two-point ball game in the fourth quarter against a very good team.

“When we had that 9-0 run to take the lead, they responded with a 13-0 run just after that and they were able to go to another level in that situation, and that was a level that we didn’t have.

He added: “But in general we competed. We’ve got to look at the positives as far as going forward. This is not a team that we are expected to beat. We gave ourselves a chance and we’ve got to use that to look forward to beat the teams that we have to beat.”

Brandon Costner led Yokohama with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Masashi Hosoya had 10 of his 15 points in the fourth, helping the B-Corsairs pull ahead for the first time in the final period. Takuya Kawamura scored 13 points, Edward Morris added nine and nine rebounds and Arthur Stepheson had eight points and eight boards, with starting point guard Tawatari providing seven points.

Chiba led 51-41 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the B-Corsairs outscored the visitors 17-14, slowing down the league’s No. 1 offense. It was the only quarter in the two-game series in which the Jets scored less than 20 points.

“We played a big lineup and we played a zone with Brandon at the top,” Wisman said of the team’s defensive adjustments after halftime. “And out of that we were making some adjustments that basically gave us some matchup situations. It worked for a quarter, but didn’t quite work for the two quarters we needed it to.”

Despite the defeat, perhaps the B-Corsairs gained some needed confidence in their potential.

“After every loss, you are frustrated, of course,” Tawatari told The Japan Times. “But we showed something that we could do today. They are the best team in the league, and we are fourth (from the) bottom right now, so I think we’ve got something for the next games or next week, so that’s good.”

Following Saturday’s blowout loss, “we saw a lot of improvement,” Tawatari said, “and in the fourth quarter we were right there, but we couldn’t make it happen. But we feel like we are better than before, so that’s a good thing.”

Alvark 83, NeoPhoenix 59

In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Tokyo outscored the hosts 26-10 in the fourth quarter en route to its 11th consecutive victory.

Montenegrin forward Milko Bjelica paced the Alvark (32-12) with 21 points and Alex Kirk scored 26 and snared 10 rebounds. Daiki Tanaka had 11 points and seven assists and Yudai Baba scored 10 points.

Tokyo connected on 9 of 17 3-point attempts. The reigning champions registered 18 assists against five turnovers.

William McDonald finished with 22 points for San-en (17-27), while Cedric Simmons and Atsuya Ota each had 10 points. The NeoPhoenix made just 1 of 8 3s.

Diamond Dolphins 84, Levanga 78

In Sapporo, Craig Brackins’ 18 points and nine rebounds led Nagoya to its second win in as many days over the Levanga.

Taito Nakahigashi scored 15 points and Ryota Kobayashi handed out five assists for the Diamond Dolphins (24-20), who had five double-digit scorers.

Marc Trasolini paced Hokkaido with 29 points. Byron Mullens added 15 points, Daisuke Noguchi scored 10 and Asahi Tajima dished out seven assists for the Levanga (10-34).

Lakestars 92, Northern Happinets 76

In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, newcomer Allen Durham’s 25-point, nine-rebound effort and Yusuke Karino’s strong outside shooting performance sparked the Lakestars as they wrapped up a weekend sweep of Akita.

Karino buried 5 of 9 3s in a 20-point outing. Teammate Henry Walker, a former NBA player, scored 16 points and Taishi Ito doled out nine assists for Shiga (10-34).

Daichi Shimoyama and Justin Keenan scored 15 points apiece and Shota Onodera contributed 11 points for the Northern Happinets (14-30).

Brave Thunders 84, Rizing Zephyr 76

In Fukuoka, Kawasaki delivered a strong overall offensive performance, making 51.6 percent of their shots from the field to complete a series sweep.

Brave Thunders star Nick Fazekas had a team-high 28 points and 10 rebounds and Naoto Tsuji scored 16 points. Vernon Macklin supplied 14 points, 12 boards and six assists and Ryusei Shinoyama dished out nine assists for Kawasaki (28-16).

For Fukuoka (10-34), Marqus Blakely had 26 points and 14 rebounds and Dexter Pittman added 22 and nine. Yasuhiro Yamashita finished with nine points, 10 boards and seven assists and Tenyoku You added 10 points.

Grouses 80, Golden Kings 78

In Okinawa City, Naoki Uto made a three-point play with 24 seconds remaining to lift Toyama to a bounce-back triumph over the hosts.

Uto scored 11 of his 19 points in the pivotal final quarter, and the Grouses (22-22) outscored the Golden Kings 25-11 over the final 10 minutes.

Center Joshua Smith sparked Toyama with 24 points on 9-for-9 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Leo Lyons chipped in with 15 points, 11 boards and six assists.

The Grouses held the hosts to 5-for-22 shooting in the fourth.

Jeff Ayres led Ryukyu (28-16) with 21 points. Naoki Tashiro and Ryuichi Kishimoto each had 15 points, with the latter also handing out seven assists.

Hannaryz 81, Evessa 69

In Ise, Mie Prefecture, Kyoto controlled the first three quarters, taking a 24-point advantage into the fourth en route to avenging a series-opening loss to Osaka.

Big man David Simon topped the scoring chart with 25 points for the Hannaryz (25-19), with Julian Mavunga notching a triple-double (17 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) in the win. Yusuke Okada poured in 14 points as well.

Evessa pivotman Josh Harrellson had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Trevor Mbakwe added 10 points and Hiroyuki Kinoshita scored nine for Osaka (17-27).

Brex 79, SeaHorses 56

In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, the Brex dominated the first half, then pulled away with a potent third-quarter effort before collecting their second win of the weekend against Mikawa.

Tochigi (36-8) outscored the visitors 25-9 in the third quarter.

The SeaHorses (23-21) trailed 66-33 entering the final stanza.

Jeff Gibbs (17 points, nine rebounds), Yusuke Endo (16 points, 4 of 6 on 3s), Ryan Rossiter (13 points, 15 boards), Makoto Hiejima (11 points, seven assists) and Kosuke Takeuchi (10 assists) all had big statistical games for the Brex.

Yuta Okada scored 21 points for Mikawa, while Isaac Butts had 15 points and 17 rebounds.

Second-division update

Here are Sunday’s B2 results:

Storks 89, Samuraiz 50

Brave Warriors 68, Earthfriends 58

Bambitious 89, Orange Vikings 83

89ers 88, Firebonds 70

Robots 89, Crane Thunders 82

Fighting Eagles 96, Dragonflies 86

Susanoo Magic 84, Wat’s 78

Wyverns 95, Volters 90

In Nara’s win over Ehime, Bambitious center Gary Hamilton produced a triple-double, including a second-division record 15 assists. The University of Miami product also had 10 points and 12 rebounds. He’s averaging 10.9 points, 13.5 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game.