The Gonzaga University men’s basketball team is generating plenty of headlines during the ongoing NCAA Tournament on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
And rightfully so. Coach Mark Few’s team, a top seed, has reached the Sweet 16 for the fifth consecutive season, and junior forward Rui Hachimura, a native of Toyama Prefecture, is one of the brightest stars in the college game.
But a former Bulldog also generated big news over the weekend in Japan.
Sunrockers Shibuya center Robert Sacre scored a career-high 44 points in Saturday’s road win over the Kyoto Hannaryz. A day later, Sacre eclipsed that mark with 46 points in Shibuya’s 105-103 overtime triumph at Hannaryz Arena.
Sacre scored 22 first-quarter points, helping the visitors take a 30-19 lead entering the second quarter.
The series finale was also a magnificent showcase for Kyoto star Julian Mavunga’s all-around skills. The Miami (Ohio) University alum scored a season-high 45 points, his third game with 40 or more this season. He notched his second straight triple-double and sixth of the season, contributing 13 rebounds and 12 assists for the Hannaryz (27-22). Mavunga made 12 of 14 foul shots and 14 of 27 from the floor.
David Simon had 23 points and Yusuke Okada scored 14 points for the hosts, who forced OT on a Mavunga inside basket with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter. That made it 93-93.
Sacre broke his day-old scoring record on the first of two free throws with 3:51 remaining in OT. The shot put Shibuya (23-26) ahead 98-95. He finished 18-for-30 from the floor and 10 of 12 at the foul line and corralled 14 rebounds.
Sunrockers guard Leo Vendrame scored 25 points and Ryan Kelly had 15.
Sacre, the final pick (No. 60) in the 2012 NBA Draft, played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2013-16 and averaged 4.2 points in 189 NBA games. While at Gonzaga, he averaged 9.3 points in 136 games.
This weekend’s offensive outburst shines a light on the 29-year-old Sacre’s offensive skills that are taking his game to a new level. Sacre is now averaging 19.6 ppg, putting him ninth overall in the B. League.
Alvark 100, Diamond Dolphins 74
In Tachikawa, the reigning champions completed a two-game sweep of Nagoya and clinched a playoff berth on Sunday.
Center Alex Kirk ignited the Alvark (36-13) with 33 points, including five dunks. Kirk shot 12 of 14 from the field. Teammate Milko Bjelica poured in 21 points and Daiki Tanaka contributed 13 points and seven assists.
For the Diamond Dolphins (25-24), Shuto Ando led the way with 27 points and pivot Hilton Armstrong had 23 points and 12 rebounds, matching Kirk’s slam dunk total, too.
Jets 101, Northern Happinets 68
In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, the title-chasing Jets pounded Akita to extend their winning streak to nine.
Chiba (42-7) also improved to 22-3 at home this season.
Gavin Edwards scored 24 points and snared eight rebounds and Yuki Togashi scored 23 points and handed out five assists for the hosts.
Togashi and Shigehiro Taguchi, who had 12 points, both canned 4 of 6 3-pointers. Aki Chambers added 10 points and Yoshiaki Fujinaga, who suited up for Nagoya last season, came off the bench and dished out eight assists in 16-plus minutes.
Justin Keenan paced the Northern Happinets (15-34) with 19 points. Ryuto Yasuoka finished with 10 points and six assists.
Brave Thunders 92, Levanga 77
In Kawasaki, Nick Fazekas’ 25-point, 13-rebound performance helped propel the hosts past Hokkaido for the second straight day.
Vernon Macklin had 14 points and five assists and Yuma Fujii scored 13 points for the Brave Thunders (32-17). Ryusei Shinoyama contributed 11 points and nine assists, with Shane Edwards also scoring 11.
The Levanga trailed 51-41 at halftime.
Byron Mullens had 38 points and 10 boards for Hokkaido (10-39), which dropped its 11th consecutive contest. David Doblas added 11 points and 12 rebounds and Kohei Sekino scored nine points.
Albirex BB 92, Evessa 84
In Osaka, big man Davante Gardner’s 37 points helped Niigata complete a series sweep of the Evessa.
The Marquette University product finished the game with 15 baskets out of 20 attempts from the floor for the Albirex (35-14).
Frontcourt mate Lamont Hamilton had 17 points and eight rebounds. Veteran guards Shinsuke Kashiwagi and Kei Igarashi scored 13 and 12 points, respectively. Igarashi dished out eight assists, playing a key role in Niigata’s 60-percent shooting.
Josh Harrellson led Osaka (18-31) with 26 points and eight rebounds. Xavier Gibson provided 16 points and seven boards and Shota Konno had a 15-point outing.
Grouses 101, Rizing Zephyr 74
In Fukuoka, Joshua Smith notched a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Toyama excelled at the free-throw line en route to winning for the second time in as many days against the hosts.
Toyama’s Leo Lyons and Yuto Otsuka both scored 16 points, with the latter draining 5 of 10 3s.
Tomokazu Abe doled out seven assists for the Grouses (26-23), who have won four straight.
Marqus Blakely scored 12 points and Shota Tsuyama had 10 for the Rizing Zephyr (11-38), who appointed Jun Nakanishi as their new general manager this week.
NeoPhoenix 80, SeaHorses 66
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, balanced scoring played a key role in San-en’s second win of the weekend over Mikawa.
Cedric Simmons had 17 points, Tatsuya Suzuki scored 15 and threaded the needle on six passes, with Shuto Terazono contributing 11 points and four assists for the NeoPhoenix (20-29).
Kennedy Meeks paced the SeaHorses (24-25) with 18 points, nine boards and seven assists. Isaac Butts had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Yuta Okada scored 13 points.
Golden Kings 78, Lakestars 73
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, veteran guard sparked Ryukyu with 24 points in a bounce-back victory over the Lakestars.
Ira Brown added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Kings (31-18). Narito Namizato scored eight points and handed out eight assists against his former team, while Kevin Jones also put eight points on the board.
Allen Durham led Shiga (12-37) with 32 points and 18 boards. Gani Lawal had 18 points and Kohei Nakamura scored 10 points.
Brex 90, B-Corsairs 79
In Yokohama, Ryan Rossiter’s unstoppable offensive performance made a big difference as Tochigi wrapped up a weekend sweep of the B-Corsairs.
Rossiter made 14 of 16 shots from the floor, collected 15 rebounds and dished out eight assists for the Brex (40-9) before a sell-out crowd of 5,050 at Yokohama International Swimming Pool.
Yusuke Endo poured in 17 points for the visitors, burying 4 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc. Center Andrew Naymick, a Michigan State alum supplied 12 points, seven boards, three blocks and two steals.
Brandon Costner had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Takuya Kawamura scored 22 points for Yokohama (14-35). Newcomer Jonathan Holmes, a 204-cm forward, had 14 points and five rebounds in nearly 20 minutes in his first game with the club.
Here are Sunday’s B2 scores:
Volters 89, Orange Vikings 79
Susanoo Magic 81, Bambitious 52
Fighting Eagles 91, Samuraiz 82
Wat’s 78, Wyverns 74
Five Arrows 92, Dragonflies 90
Crane Thunders 98 Firebonds 63
89ers 69, Robots 60
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5