Basketball / B. League

Ryukyu pulls away in third quarter, eliminates Nagoya in series-deciding game

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Jeff Ayres scored 17 points and Ryuichi Kishimoto had 16 as the Ryukyu Golden Kings topped the visiting Nagoya Diamond Dolphins 67-43 in Game 3 of their quarterfinal playoff series on Monday night.

With the win, the Golden Kings advanced to the B. League Championship semifinals, a best-of-three series starting this weekend in Okinawa City. Ryukyu will play host to the reigning champion Alvark Tokyo, who eliminated the Central Division champion Niigata Albirex BB from postseason play.

In a defensive battle, the Golden Kings led 23-22 at halftime. They pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the visitors 22-9.

Ryukyu held Nagoya to 25.9 percent shooting from the field. Justin Burrell, who had 15 points, was the Diamond Dolphins’ lone double-digit scorer. He also grabbed 10 boards. Taito Nakahigashi added nine points.

Nagoya shot 3 of 17 from 3-point range; Ryukyu connected on 7 of 21 3s, with Kishimoto draining 4 of 7.

Golden Kings floor leader Narito Namizato had 10 points and eight assists, Ira Brown finished with nine points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Kevin Jones blocked two shots.

The Diamond Dolphins had six assists and 18 turnovers in their final game of the playoffs.

Ryukyu eliminated Nagoya from the playoffs for the second straight year.

“As a team, I think it’s always a plus to be able to fight (in the next round), so I want to play to be able to respond well to the fans’ cheers,” Kishimoto said, looking ahead to the playoff semifinals.