Basketball / B. League

Alvark, Jets ready for marquee showdown

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The Alvark Tokyo and Chiba Jets Funabashi are ready to rumble in their championship game rematch.

One day before the B. League Championship final, both teams tuned up for the final time, practicing at Yokohama Arena on Friday.

The Alvark (44-16 in the regular season) will look to add another trophy to their shelf while the Jets (52-8) will attempt to avenge their loss to their East Division rival in last year’s final.

“We’ve had good preparation this past week,” Chiba head coach Atsushi Ono said at a news conference. “If we fall short in terms of the intensity and readiness, that means we are not playing our style. We would like to put up what we’ve accumulated in the 60 games (of the regular season) and fight as a team with all the players and staff.”

Jets star guard Yuki Togashi said: “It’s our pleasure to be able to compete against the same opponent at the same venue. We certainly remember our frustration from last year and would like to avenge that.”

The Alvark racked up their first B. League championship with an 85-60 win over Chiba in last year’s final.

Alvark bench boss Luka Pavicevic said that his team will step onto the court thinking that it is a whole new game.

“It’s the two same clubs,” said Pavicevic, whose Alvark have beaten the Niigata Albirex BB and Ryukyu Golden Kings, both on road, to get to the final. “But it’s not the same season and it’s not the same situation. We are happy to be in the final again and we will try out best to be competitive in the final tomorrow.”

Alvark shooting guard Daiki Tanaka shared the same sentiment with his coach and said his team would not dwell on what happened last year and how the rivals have fared against each other this year.

“Last year’s final and what kind of record we’ve had against them have often been talked about,” said Tanaka, whose squad went 1-5 against Chiba in the 2018-19 regular season “But to me, this final is a completely new game. We’ve competed in the quarterfinals and semifinals looking to capture this new championship. So hopefully, we’ll take the court with the same mindset tomorrow.”

Togashi said that what will separate the winner and loser will come down to which team hustles more during the game’s 40 minutes.

“I think know how many loose balls we can get and things like that will affect the result of the game,” Togashi said. “In fact, those things have been factors in the championship this year. So for one last time, we would like to be aware of that.”

The Jets are unbeaten in the postseason, sinking the Toyama Grouses and Tochigi Brex in previous rounds.

The championship game will tip off at 3:10 p.m.