As the regular season winds down, the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins are trying to secure one of the final playoff spots, possibly the eighth and final berth.
They moved a step closer to making that goal a reality on Saturday, hammering the visiting Osaka Evessa 73-49.
With their third consecutive win, the Diamond Dolphins (29-28) kept themselves in the postseason hunt. They are vying with the Kyoto Hannaryz, SeaHorses Mikawa and Toyama Grouses to punch tickets to the playoffs.
Veteran forward Justin Burrell, a former bj-league MVP, was a tone-setting force for Nagoya, finishing just shy of a triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Hilton Armstrong and Shuto Ando added 12 points apiece, with Taito Nakahigashi, Tenketsu Harimoto and Takaya Sasayama all scoring eight points.
Armstrong, a former NBA center, also supplied 10 boards and three blocks.
Leading 36-32 at halftime, the Diamond Dolphins pulled away in the third quarter.
Osaka (20-34) trailed 58-40 entering the fourth quarter.
Trevor Mbakwe was the high scorer for the Evessa with 12 points. Josh Harrellson added 11 points and 14 rebounds and Soichiro Fujitaka had 10 points.
Osaka shot 31.3 percent from the field.
Albirex BB 95, SeaHorses 84
In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Kei Igarashi showcased his passing skills once again, registering nine assists without a turnover against Mikawa en route to victory.
Frontcourt mates Davante Gardner (37 points, 15-for-22 shooting) and Lamont Hamilton (22 points, 11 rebounds) also played pivotal roles for the Central Division-leading Albirex (39-15). For Hamilton, the impressive performance came on his 35th birthday. Teammate Shinshuke Kashiwagi chipped in with 10 points, knocking down two 3-pointers.
Kosuke Kanamaru led the SeaHorses (28-26) with 32 points, including 6-for-11 from beyond the arc. Isaac Butts, who made 10 of 13 shots, finished with 22 points and 15 boards. Yuta Okada had 11 points and J.R. Sakuragi scored 10 with six assists.
Alvark 60, Brex 56
In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, Tokyo outlasted the hosts, avenging Friday’s loss in the process.
In this defensive struggle, Tochigi’s final points came on a Jeff Gibbs inside jumper with 1:57 to go in the fourth quarter. That shot pulled the Brex within 57-56.
After that, the only points came on three Yudai Baba free throws, two of which came with 1 seconds left.
Alex Kirk was the Alvark’s high scorer with 15 points. He grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots. Seiya Ando scored 14 points, Baba added 12 and Milko Bjelica had nine for Tokyo (41-14).
The Alvark made 21 of 28 free-throw attempts, while the Brex drained 7 of 12.
Ryan Rossiter led Tochigi (44-11) with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Gibbs and Makoto Hiejima had 13 points apiece.
Tokyo made just 3 of 21 3-point shots.
Neither team shot well in the series finale. The Alvark hit their target on 36 percent of their shots; the Brex made 35.4 percent.
“Way to bounce back!” tweeted injured Tokyo forward Jawad Williams.
Golden Kings 82, Hannaryz 76
In Okinawa City, superior rebounding helped propel Ryukyu past Kyoto.
The Golden Kings collected 39 rebounds (14 offensive) and held the visitors to 25 (six on the offensive glass). Ira Brown led the hosts with eight rebounds, while Jeff Ayres pulled down seven.
Ryuichi Kishimoto had a team-best 19 points and Narito Namizato scored 16 and dished out five assists for Ryukyu (35-19). Takatoshi Furukawa added 15 points and Kevin Jones had 11.
Hannaryz big man David Simon scored 28 points and swatted five shots. Julian Mavunga contributed 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and Tatsuya Ito had 17 points for Kyoto (29-25).
Sunrockers 75, Northern Happinets 68
In Akita, Shibuya erased an eight-point halftime deficit and dominated on offense in the last two quarters to secure a victory over the Northern Happinets.
The Sunrockers (26-28) had 50 second-half points and held the hosts to 35.
Leo Vendrame and Ryan Kelly had 18 and 17 points, respectively, for Shibuya, with veteran guard Takashi Ito contributing a season-high 16 on 7-for-8 shooting. Center Robert Sacre finished with 11 points and nine boards. Kelly added 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a pair of steals.
Akita’s Justin Keenan scored 31 points, including 12 of 13 at the foul line, and snared 11 rebounds. Kadeem Coleby had 13 points and Ryosuke Shirahama added seven for the Happinets (15-39), who have lost nine straight.
NeoPhoenix 94, B-Corsairs 74
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, William McDonald and Josh Childress combined for 41 points as San-en pounded struggling Yokohama.
McDonald, a University of South Florida alum, put 21 points on the board, including 15 in the second half.
In addition to his 20 points, Childress had 12 rebounds and six assists.
Shuto Terazono poured in 12 points for the NeoPhoenix (22-33), while Shuto Tawatari added 11, making 3 of 5 from long range. Tatsuya Suzuki doled out a game-high eight assists.
For the B-Corsairs (14-41), Ryo Tawatari and Arthur Stepheson both scored 16 points. Brandon Costner had 14 points and Naoaki Hashimoto finished with 10.
Stepheson hauled in 11 rebounds to complete the double-double.
Yokohama’s losing streak reached eight games as the hosts outscored the B-Corsairs 50-34 in the paint.
Yokohama coach Tom Wisman pinned his team’s struggles on defense.
“We were not able to defend for three quarters again today,” Wisman told reporters. “We were desperate (in the fourth), but it was too late.
He added: “…You cannot win without defense.”
Lakestars 91, Rizing Zephyr 80
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, the hosts jumped out to a 34-11 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back in a runaway win against Fukuoka.
Henry Walker ignited the Lakestars (15-39) with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. The former NBA player canned 6 of 11 3-point shots. Allen Durham added 24 points and 11 boards.
Yusuke Karino and Koyo Takahashi netted 16 and 15 points, respectively, with Taishi Ito dishing out five assists. Takahashi’s scoring output included 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Benjamin Lawson had 21 points and nine boards for the Rizing Zephyr (11-43), who lost their ninth straight. Eric Jacobsen scored 16 points, Satoshi Ishitani supplied 15 and Shota Tsuyama 12.
Jets 97, Levanga 67
In Kushiro, Hokkaido, Michael Parker’s 22-point, five-steal performance energized Chiba in a rout of the hosts.
Parker made 10 of 12 shots from the floor.
The Levanga (10-44) lost their 16th straight game.
The Jets (46-8), on the other hand, got 17 points from Josh Duncan, 16 from Gavin Edwards and 10 apiece from Shigehiro Taguchi and Aki Chambers. Yuki Togashi scored eight points and dished out nine assists. Duncan and Parker shared the team lead in rebounds (eight), with Chambers pulling down seven.
Edwards swatted three shots in the series opener.
A 23-0 Chiba run capped by a Taguchi free throw gave the visitors an 82-52 lead with 8:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.
David Doblas, who hails from Spain, led Hokkaido with 22 points, while Marc Trasolini scored 19. Shusuke Yamamoto had 10 points and eight assists.
The Jets buried 10 of 26 3-point attempts; the Levanga sank 3 of 12.
Grouses 88, Brave Thunders 74
In Kawasaki, a back-and-forth series finale went Toyama’s way down the stretch in a bounce-back win over the hosts.
There were nine ties and 14 lead changes, and coach Don Beck’s Grouses found their offensive rhythm in the second half, outscoring the Brave Thunders 26-15 in the third quarter and 22-17 in the final stanza.
Kawasaki led 42-40 at halftime.
Joshua Smith paced Toyama (28-27) with 31 points and 16 boards.
Leo Lyons contributed 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the out-of-towners, with Yuto Otsuka and Seiya Funyu both scoring 10 points. Funyu also made four steals.
Shane Edwards led the Brave Thunders (37-18) with 18 points, followed by Naoto Tsuji’s 17, Nick Fazekas’ 13, Yuma Fujii’s 11 and Vernon Macklin’s 10. Macklin was the top rebounder (11) for the hosts.
Here are Saturday’s scores:
Brave Warriors 81, Samuraiz 62
Volters 70, Susanoo Magic 65
Dragonflies 89, Orange Vikings 75
Storks 81, Earthfriends 79
Fighting Eagles 98, Bee Trains 70
Wat’s 75, Firebonds 72
89ers 94, Wyverns 67*
Crane Thunders 86, Robots 75 (OT)
Five Arrows 71, Bambitious 63
*Sendai (36-19) extended its winning streak to 10 by routing Yamagata.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5