Facing a 61-50 deficit after three quarters was not an insurmountable task for the Utsunomiya Brex.
Coach Ryuzo Anzai’s club relied on experience and veteran poise to stage a memorable comeback.
Macho forward Ryan Rossiter led the way with 19 of his game-high 31 points in the pivotal fourth quarter. The Brex pulled off an 81-77 comeback victory over the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, their home locale this weekend.
Rossiter made 8 of 11 shots from the field in the fourth. He drained 2 of 2 3-point attempts and grabbed seven of his 16 rebounds in the final stanza.
Teammate Makoto Hiejima finished with 12 points, eight assists and a pair of blocks, while Shuhei Kitagawa had 10 points. Seiji Ikaruga added eight points, Kosuke Takeuchi scored six points and hauled in eight boards and Jeff Gibbs made three steals.
The Brex announced on Friday that Rossiter’s application to become a naturalized Japanese citizen has been approved by the government.
“I’ve played in Japan for seven years and made many friends,” Rossiter told reporters after the game.
The Siena College alum also commented on his close-knit team.
“It’s like a family,” said Rossiter, who joined the Brex in 2013.
The Brex (13-4) had their biggest run when they needed it most. A 12-0 spurt in the fourth pulled them within 67-64 as they rallied past the Diamond Dolphins.
Shuto Ando, who had 19 points, was the high scorer for Nagoya (9-8), and four teammates also reached double digits in points: Ishmael Lane (15), Makoto Kinoshita (13) and Hilton Armstrong and Tenketsu Harimoto (both with 12). Lane swatted four shots and Armstrong had a five-block outing.
NeoPhoenix 74, Levanga 61
In Sapporo, San-en ended its epic losing streak in point guard Tatsuya Suzuki’s season debut, giving the Central Division’s last-place squad its first triumph of the 2019-20 campaign.
Kyle Barone had 17 points, 12 rebounds and a pair of blocks for San-en (1-16). Takanobu Nishikawa netted 16 points, Shuto Terazono had 11 and Atsuya Ota scored 10. Suzuki came off the bench and provided two points, two assists and a steal in 15-plus minutes, while backup forward Mickell Gladness scored eight points and collected nine rebounds.
The NeoPhoenix outscored the hosts 38-23 in the second half.
The Levanga missed 17 of 19 3-point attempts in the series opener.
Kennedy Meeks had 18 points and 12 boards for Hokkaido (8-9), while Marc Trasolini chipped in with 13 points.
Alvark 79, Northern Happinets 76
In Akita, MVP candidate Alex Kirk delivered a stellar performance to help carry two-time defending champion Tokyo past the hosts.
Kirk put 22 points on the board on 9-for-10 shooting from the floor and pulled down 12 rebounds. He also struggled at the free-throw line, making 4 of 10 attempts.
Alvark teammate Seiya Ando added 18 points, Kevin Jones scored 16 and snared 11 rebounds, Zack Baranski and Joji Takeuchi each had eight points and Shohei Kikuchi dished out seven assists for Tokyo (13-4).
Justin Keenan paced Akita (9-7) with 37 points, including 10-for-10 at the foul line. Masashi Hosoya added nine points.
Lakestars 80, SeaHorses 65
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, swingman Takuma Sato made a season-high six steals in a standout defensive effort against Mikawa.
The Hokkaido Prefecture native also scored 11 points and doled out four assists.
Jeff Ayres led Shiga (6-11) with 19 points and 16 rebounds, Takuma Saito had 15 points and Henry Walker contributed 11 points and six assists.
The Lakestars made 8 of 31 3-point shots; the SeaHorses sank 3 of 13.
Center Cedric Simmons finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for Mikawa (4-13). Yuta Okada and J.R. Sakuragi both scored 12 points.
B-Corsairs 71, Albirex BB 64
In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Yokohama newcomer James Southerland notched a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in his B-Corsairs debut, leading his club to a series-opening win over the hosts.
Aki Chambers chipped in with 15 points, Ryo Tawatari had 12 points and seven assists and Reginald Brecton and Shusuke Ikuhara scored seven points apiece for the B-Corsairs (6-10).
Yokohama held Niigata to 33.8 percent shooting from the field, including 17 of 46 from inside the arc.
Nick Perkins had a team-high 17 points and Kei Igarashi and Lamont Hamilton both scored 12 for the Albirex (5-12). Hamilton also hauled in 13 rebounds. Yuichi Ikeda contributed 11 points, draining 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
Evessa 81, Hannaryz 71
In Kyoto, Osaka led from start to finish against its Kansai rival in the teams’ weekend opener.
Richard Hendrix’s 27-point, 19-rebound, seven-assist, three-steal, two-block effort ignited the Evessa at both ends of the floor. Josh Harrellson contributed 22 points and nine rebounds, Ira Brown scored 16 points and Tomoya Hasegawa had 12 for Osaka (11-5).
The Hannaryz trailed 41-29 at halftime.
David Simon scored 26 points and pulled down 10 boards for Kyoto (8-9). Julian Mavunga added 18 points and 10 assists and Keijuro “K.J.” Matsui had 11 points.
Jets 77, Grouses 67
In Toyama, Gavin Edwards and Josh Duncan combined for 50 points and 33 rebounds in a triumph over the Grouses.
Edwards scored 26 points, grabbed 15 boards and blocked four shots. Duncan had 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting with 18 rebounds, including a game-best five offensive boards. Shigehiro Taguchi and Fumio Nishimura both scored seven points for the Jets (10-7), while Koh Flippin dished out six assists.
Leo Lyons led Toyama (5-12) with 16 points. Satoru Maeta scored 15, followed by Josh Peppers with 14 and Naoki Uto with 13.
Brave Thunders 90, Golden Kings 87
In Kawasaki, an efficient offense carried the Brave Thunders past Ryukyu in a down-to-the-wire contest.
Five Kawasaki players handed out two or more assists, with Yuma Fujii (seven) and Ryusei Shinoyama (six) setting the tone.
Big man Nick Fazekas added 23 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Heath scored 15 points and Fujii and Shinoyama both finished with 12.
The Central Division-leading Brave Thunders (14-3) canned 19 of 21 free throws.
De’Mon Brooks led the Golden Kings (10-6) with 28 points. He made 5 of 5 from deep. Ryuichi Kishimoto scored 20 points and Jack Cooley had 13 and eight rebounds, while Narito Namizato added nine points and six assists.
Here are the results of Saturday’s B2 games:
Crane Thunders 76, Storks 71
Excellence 79, Brave Warriors 69
Dragonflies 79, 89ers 65
Firebonds 80, Alphas 73
Volters 89, Wyverns 82
Fighting Eagles 101, Five Arrows 82
Bambitious Rizing Zephyr 73, Bambitious 72