Basketball / B. League

Alvark's Alex Kirk makes huge defensive impact in series-opening win against Sunrockers

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Alvark Tokyo center Alex Kirk was an active defensive presence on Sunday.

The 211-cm University of New Mexico alum swatted two shots in the first quarter against the visiting Sunrockers Shibuya, and it was a sign of things to come.

Kirk blocked another shot in the second quarter, two more in the third and one in the fourth in the Alvark’s 85-67 victory.

In a clash of East Division heavyweights, the two-time defending B. League champions extended their winning streak to five.

All told, there were a combined 10 blocked shots by both teams in the series opener.

Kirk had a game-best 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, another game-high number.

Tokyo’s Kevin Jones chipped in with 14 points, eight boards and five assists. Seiya Ando, Yutaro Suda and Daiki Tanaka all scored 11 points. Suda drained 3 of 4 3-point attempts.

Tanaka dished out six assists, while Ando and Shohei Kikuchi both had four for the Alvark (12-3).

“I was very happy with how our team defense was engaged all night long,” Kirk commented after the game. “Shibuya is a great team with amazing energy but I thought we matched that all game. Having six blocks was exciting for me but I’m happy my teammates were in the positions to help me when I went for the block.”

Shibuya big man Sebastian Saiz, who hails from Spain, finished with 22 points, including four dunks. Ryan Kelly chipped in with 15 points, while Leo Vendrame and Kohei Sekino each had nine. Vendrame also dished out six assists.

The Sunrockers (11-4), who trailed 36-30 at halftime, were held to 37.1 percent shooting from the field, including 19 of 49 on 2-point attempts.

In the fourth quarter, Tokyo outscored Shiubya 27-16, getting seven points from Kirk and six from Ando. Both players were 3-for-3 from on shot attempts in the final stanza.

“Everybody stepped it up in the fourth and we really found a great rhythm,” Kirk said later. “This game was much closer than the final score and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

The Alvark outrebounded the visitors 44-23.

The teams meet again on Monday at Arena Tachikawa Tachihi. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m.