Basketball / B. League

Hannaryz, Diamond Dolphins, Grouses keep alive playoff hopes

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The race for the final two playoff spots will be determined on the final day of the regular season.

Still in the hunt: The Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, Kyoto Hannaryz and Toyama Grouses. Nagoya has a 32-27 record, while Kyoto and Toyama are both 31-28 entering Sunday’s action.Head-to-head records could be the determining factor as the first tiebreaker, but it could come down to a second tiebreaker, and the higher score differential in games between the teams would be used.

In Osaka, the Hannaryz stayed alive in the playoff hunt by beating the Evessa 69-57 on Saturday.

Kyoto controlled the fourth quarter, outscoring the hosts 22-6.

Julian Mavunga paced the Hannaryz with 29 points and 13 rebounds along with four assists. Shaquille Morris chipped in with 12 points and Tatsuya Ito added 11 points, five assists and three steals.

For the Evessa (22-37), Hiroyuki Kinoshita was the top scorer with 10 points. Trevor Mbakwe had eight points and 16 rebounds.

“In the first quarter, Osaka was aggressive, and we (made) a lot of easy turnovers, and it was very painful,” Kyoto coach Honoo Hamaguchi said, “But we changed (our tactics) from the middle of the third quarter to a zone defense and the lineup was a bit bigger, and I think it worked a bit.”

“Good win tonight. Great second-half energy!” tweeted Mavunga.

Grouses 89, NeoPhoenix 72

In Toyama, Leo Lyons’ 25-point effort and Joshua Smith’s 20 points carried the hosts past San-en.

Lyons and Smith both corralled 13 rebounds.

Tomokazu Abe had 10 points and nine assists off the bench, while Naoki Uto poured in 10 points, too.

Shuto Tawatari led the NeoPhoenix (22-37) with 15 points, Cedric Simmons scored 14 and Tatsuya Suzuki had 10 and handed out seven assists.

Toyama outrebounded the visitors 45-25, and outscored them 56-36 in the paint.

Diamond Dolphins 77, Rizing Zephyr 73

In Fukuoka, Justin Burrell’s 23-point, 19-rebound performance set the tone for Nagoya in a must-need win to keep its playoff aspirations alive.

Craig Brackins, Tenketsu Harimoto and Shuto Ando added 11 points apiece for the Diamond Dolphins, while Ryota Kobayashi dished out seven assists.

Benjamin Lawson paced Fukuoka (12-47) with 19 points and 17 boards. Eric Jacobsen scored 16 points and Daisuke Kobayashi added 15.

Albirex BB 89, B-Corsairs 88

In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Davante Gardner’s buzzer-beating putback lifted the hosts to a narrow victory over Yokohama, keeping their winning streak intact.

The Albirex (44-15) have won nine straight.

Gardner scored 34 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Jun Uzawa provided 14 points, Kei Igarashi had 11 points and five assists and Lamont Hamilton scored 10 points. Kenta Morii made four steals.

The B-Corsairs had taken an 88-87 lead on a Ryo Tawatari 3-pointer with 6 seconds to play.

Arthur Stepheson led Yokohama (14-45) with 24 points and 21 rebounds. Tawatari scored 17 points, Takuya Kawamura had 16 and Brandon Costner 14.

The B-Corsairs will look to halt their 12-game slide in the season finale on Sunday.

Golden Kings 69, Lakestars 63

In Okinawa City, Ryukyu led from start to finish against Shiga, getting a big spark from guard Ryoma Hashimoto, who made five steals.

Jeff Ayres scored 15 points for the Golden Kings (39-20), with Kevin Jones finishing with 14 and Hashimoto with 11. Narito Namizato doled out five assists.

Henry Walker scored 23 points for the Lakestars (18-41) and Allen Durham had 19 points and 20 rebounds.

Brex 78, Northern Happinets 73

In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, Jeff Gibbs had team-high totals in points (18) and steals (five) as the hosts prevailed against Akita.

Gibbs also snared six rebounds, sharing the team lead (six) with Ryan Rossiter, who scored 15 points.

Brex guard Yuta Tabuse added 11 points off the bench, his first double-digit scoring game since Oct. 13. The ex-NBA player has been limited to 15 games this season due to a back injury. He returned to the rotation in March after sustaining the injury in October.

Hironori Watanabe provided 10 points for Tochigi (49-11), which completed a series sweep.

The Brex made 12 steals and forced 18 turnovers. Coach Ryuzo Anzai’s squad scored 27 points off turnovers in the win.

For the Northern Happinets, Justin Keenan had a game-best 38 points, including 15 of 15 at the free-throw line, and 11 rebounds.

Jets 94, Sunrockers 69

In Tokyo, five Chiba players scored in double figures, overpowering the hosts in the fourth quarter.

The Jets (51-8) extended their winning streak to seven.

Backup forward Trey Jones, who completed his college career at the University of Miami (Florida), led Chiba with 23 points. It was Jones’ 11th game of the season.

Gavin Edwards scored 19 points, Shigehiro Taguchi had 12 and Michael Parker and Kosuke Ishii added 10 apiece. Playmaker Yuki Togashi contributed nine points and dished out seven assists.

Chiba outscored Shibuya 35-11 in the fourth, including an 14-0 run that puts the Jets ahead 91-65 with 1:21 remaining.

For the Sunrockers (27-32), Yusei Sugiura scored 20 points, knocking down 6 of 11 3s. Robert Sacre added 15 points and 13 boards and Leo Vendrame and Markhuri Sanders-Frison both had 11 points in Shibyua’s fourth straight loss.

Brave Thunders 83, SeaHorses 66

In Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, Kawasaki took a 13-point advantage into the second quarter and never trailed, completing a regular season-ending series sweep of the hosts.

Nick Fazekas sparked the Brave Thunders (40-20) with 23 points and hauled in nine rebounds. Frontcourt mate Vernon Macklin chipped in with 14 points and nine boards and Takumi Hasegawa added 11 points and six assists, while Shane Edwards scored nine points.

Yuta Okada led Mikawa (31-29) with 18 points, J.R. Sakuragi had 17 points, 10 boards and five assists and Isaac Butts finished with 13 points and 17 rebounds.

Kawasaki canned 7 of 17 3-pointers; Mikawa made 3 of 15.

The SeaHorses were held to 44 points in the first three quarters.

Alvark 96, Levanga 84

In Tachikawa, the reigning champions outplayed Hokkaido, which suffered its 21st consecutive defeat.

A big key for the Alvark (43-16) was their dominant play in the second quarter, when coach Luka Pavicevic’s club outscored the visitors 32-18.

Tokyo led 53-39 at halftime.

Six Alvark players scored in double figures: Milko Bjelica and Alex Kirk (18 points apiece), Zack Baranski (16, including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers), Shohei Kikuchi (14), Yudai Baba (12) and Genki Kojima (10). Seiya Ando poured in nine points and doled out five assists, sharing the team lead in the latter category with Baba.

Kojima, Kikuchi and Bjelica all shot 2-for-2 from 3-point range. As a team, the Alvark drained 11 of 19 (57.9 percent).

Byron Mullens paced the Levanga (1-49) with 39 points and 14 rebounds. Marc Trasolini had 21 points and Shusuke Yamamoto contributed eight points and seven assists.

A look ahead

First-round playoff matches that are now set: Tochigi vs. Kawasaki, Niigata vs. Tokyo.

Second-division update

Here are Saturday’s scores:

Fighting Eagles 92, Earthfriends 79

Firebonds 92, Robots 72

Bambitious 71, Orange Vikings 68

Volters 93, Dragonflies 81

Storks 61, Samuraiz 54

Brave Warriors 88, Bee Trains 61

89ers 77, Wat’s 56

Susanoo Magic 81, Five Arrows 56

Crane Thunders 85, Wyverns 75

B2 playoffs info

Semifinal matchups: Shinshu vs.Shimane and Kumamoto vs. Gunma.

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