Basketball / B. League

Alvark make key plays in final minute, beat rival Brex in series opener

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Alvark Tokyo displayed patience and poise throughout Friday’s series opener against the Utsunomiya Brex.

The two-time defending champions came through in the clutch in the pivotal moments of the fourth quarter, winning 73-72 at Brex Arena.

Tokyo center Alex Kirk nailed a go-ahead inside jumper with 6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Yutaro Suda was credited with the assist.

After the hosts called a timeout, the Alvark had a foul to give and fouled Brex forward Jeff Gibbs with 4 seconds left. Two seconds later, Utsunomiya’s Makoto Hiejima missed an outside jumper. Tokyo’s Kevin Jones blocked the shot, sealing the victory.

In the fourth quarter, Kirk and teammate Daiki Tanaka both shot 3-for-3 from the field, leading the Alvark with six points apiece.

Tokyo led 33-31 at halftime, then fell behind 55-51 entering the fourth.

The Brex (7-4) took their final lead, 72-71, on a Gibbs outside jumper with 19 seconds remaining.

Alvark coach Luka Pavicevic then called a timeout to draw a play for his offense.

It worked.

Tokyo (7-2), which opened the season with two wins followed by two defeats, extended its winning streak to five.

Kirk paced the Alvark with 18 points and 13 rebounds. He also blocked two shots. Tanaka finished with 13 points and five assists, while backcourt mate Seiya Ando had 12 points. Jones contributed 11 points, nine boards and a pair of blocks, while Joji Takeuchi had eight points, including two 3-pointers.

Ryan Rossiter led Utsunomiya with 19 points and seven rebounds. Gibbs scored 16 points and Hironori Watanabe had 10.

The Alvark outrebounded the hosts 40-30.

Second-division update

In Friday’s B2 game, the Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka defeated the host Aomori Wat’s 96-67.

Sean Marshall had 21 points and Satoshi Ishitani poured in 18 to lead Fukuoka to a bounce-back victory over Aomori in the series finale.

The Rizing Zephyr improved to 4-11, while the Wat’s slipped to 4-10.

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