Basketball / B. League

Golden Kings celebrate assistant coach Keith Richardson's return with series sweep against Fukuoka

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

A familiar face returned to the sidelines this weekend for the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Longtime former assistant coach Keith Richardson, known affectionately as Coach K to legions of Kings fans throughout Okinawa and beyond, joined head coach Norio Sassa’s staff for Ryukyu’s series against the Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka.

It’s a welcome return for Richardson, a key figure during the team’s run as a bj-league dynasty and four championship seasons, and the organization. He departed the coaching staff following the 2016-17 season after a decade on the sideline. Now, the well-respected American mentor is working again in a familiar role.

Ryukyu celebrated Richardson’s return with a pair of victories against Fukuoka, including Sunday’s 61-59 decision in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.

“Great feeling to be back on the bench after being gone for almost two seasons!” Richardson wrote in a message posted on Facebook. “Thanks to HC Sassa, team staff and players for giving me a chance to be a part of the team! Two good team wins this weekend!”

Ryuichi Kishimoto paced the Kings (30-17), who lead the six-team West Division, with 21 points. Ira Brown notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, as did Kevin Jones (10 points, 14 boards. Narito Namizato poured in eight points and another veteran guard, Takumi Ishizaki, dished out four assists.

For Fukuoka (11-36), Eric Jacobsen had 23 points and Marqus Blakely finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, while Masashi Joho contributed seven points. Yasuhiro Yamashita provided six assists and four steals.

Jets 95, SeaHorses 74

In Chiba, Michael Parker continued his spectacular shooting form of late with 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Jets whipped Mikawa and became the first B. League team to win 40 games this season.

Parker, an Evergreen State (Washington) alum, made 9 of 11 shots from the field, and over the past seven games he’s made 42 of 52.

In Chiba’s seventh consecutive victory, Yuki Togashi doled out eight assists and Trey Jones made a rare start and scored 17 points and handed out four helpers. Gavin Edwards chipped in with 16 points, 13 boards and seven assists and Kosuke Ishii netted 13 points while knocking down three shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

As a team, the Jets (40-7) sank 13 of 29 3-point attempts.

Kosuke Kanamaru paced the SeaHorses (24-23) with 16 points and Kennedy Meeks had 12 points and 17 rebounds. Isaac Butts supplied nine points and 12 boards and Toshikazu Kato scored 13 points.

Hannaryz 82, Brex 75

In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, Julian Mavunga’s dynamic performance powered Kyoto past the Brex.

As a result, the Hannaryz halted Tochigi’s nine-game winning streak.

Mavunga scored 39 points, including 10 of 12 at the free-throw line (he was fouled 15 times), grabbed eight rebounds and dished out 10 assists. Big man David Simon scored 23 points with eight rebounds and three steals for Kyoto (27-20) in a gritty performance for the team on the road. Kevin Hareyama added seven points and two steals.

Kyoto, which led 49-37 at halftime, shot 56.2 percent from the floor and held Tochigi to 41.1 for the 40-minute duel.

Ryan Rossiter had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Brex (38-9). Yusuke Endo delivered an 18-point performance. Jeff Gibbs contributed 10 points and 10 boards and Kosuke Takeuchi added eight points.

NeoPhoenix 77, Evessa 69

In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, balanced scoring helped San-en end a nine-game losing streak in the series finale against Osaka.

Former Stanford and NBA forward Josh Childress led the NeoPhoenix (18-29) with 17 points and hauled in eight rebounds. Floor leader Tatsuya Suzuki had 14 points and five assists, Atsuya Ota, Cedric Simmons and Hayato Kawashima all had 13 points. Simmons also corralled 13 rebounds.

For Osaka (18-29), Xavier Gibson had 17 points and eight rebounds, while Hiroyuki Kinoshita scored 10 points and Faye Pape Mour added nine.

Alvark 97, Northern Happinets 77

In Odate, Akita Prefecture, Seiya Ando dropped 21 points on the hosts and Yudai Baba scored 17 as reigning champion Tokyo completed a series sweep.

Milko Bjelica poured in 16 points and Alex Kirk had nine for the Alvark (34-13), with Genki Kojima handing out six assists.

Justin Keenan led Akita (15-32) with 26 points and shared the team lead in rebounds (eight). Kadeem Coleby contributed 13 points and eight boards, while Ryuto Yasuoka had a nine-point outing.

Brave Thunders 81, Albirex BB 71

In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Kawasaki raced out to a 24-12 lead and held on for a bounce-back victory over the hosts.

Veteran star Nick Fazekas sparked the Brave Thunders (30-17) with 32 points and 19 rebounds and longtime teammate Naoto Tsuji contributed 21 points and six assists. Ryusei Shinoyama also had a strong passing game, finishing with eight assists, while Yuma Fujii netted 14 points, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.

Davante Gardner had a team-high 25 points for Niigata (33-14). Frontcourt mate Lamont Hamilton, a former St. John’s University player, chipped in with 17 points and eight boards and Kei Igarashi had nine points.

Grouses 90, Lakestars 86

In Toyama, Shiga played much better than it did in the series opener, but fell short of its goal of salvaging a weekend split.

The Grouses won the series opener 103-47 on Saturday.

A day later, Leo Lyons scored 26 points on 11-for-14 scoring for the Grouses (24-23). He also had seven rebounds and four assists in a solid all-around game.

Toyama center Joshua Smith finished with 19 points and six steals and Tomokazu Abe came off the bench and provided 15 points and six assists.

Henry Walker led the Lakestars (11-36) with 31 points. Yusuke Karino scored 18 points, Gani Lawal had 16 and eight boards and Koyo Takahashi scored 14.

Diamond Dolphins 88, Sunrockers 76

In Nagoya, Craig Brackins’ 28-point game keyed the hosts’ offensive attack as they avenged Saturday’s loss to Shibuya.

Shuto Ando and Takaya Sasayama each scored 12 points, while veteran center Hilton Armstrong provided 14 points and a B1 season-high 24 rebounds (10 offensive) for the Diamond Dolphins (25-22).

Ryan Kelly had 26 points and 17 rebounds for the Sunrockers (21-26) and Robert Sacre scored 20 points, while Kaito Morizane, a 21-year-old shooting guard, matched his season-high scoring output with 13 points.

B-Corsairs 86, Levanga 75

In Sapporo, Yokohama trailed by two points at halftime, then seized momentum with a dominant third quarter en route to its second victory in as many days over the struggling hosts.

The B-Corsairs outscored the hosts 27-15 in the third quarter, and the Levanga (10-37) suffered their ninth loss in a row.

Brandon Costner ignited Yokohama (14-33) with 22 points and Takuya Kawamura had 19 points, seven assists and three steals. Arthur Stepheson scored 11 points and snared 19 rebounds, while Ryo Tawatari added 12 points and six assists and Naoaki Hashimoto put 11 on the board.

Byron Mullens had 28 points and 13 rebounds for Hokkaido, with David Doblas scoring 19. Takehiko Orimo added nine points.

Second-division update

Here are Sunday’s B2 results:

Storks 71, Five Arrows 53

Firebonds 86, Brave Warriors 74

Susanoo Magic 90, Dragonflies 66

Samuraiz 85, Wat’s 79

Robots 81, Bee Trains 77

Earthfriends 76, Orange Vikings 75

Crane Thunders 96, Fighting Eagles 94

Volters 115, Bambitious 86

89ers 77, Wyverns 69

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