KAWASAKI – Jordan Heath set the tone for the title-chasing Kawasaki Brave Thunders in the first quarter.
The Canisius (New York) College alum delivered a shooting clinic in the game’s first 10 minutes against the visiting Ryukyu Golden Kings. He had 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range.
Sparked by a 10-0 run, Kawasaki jumped out to a 14-point lead entering the second quarter and never trailed in a 98-75 triumph.
Heath finished with a team-best 18 points and the offense click for first-year head coach Kenji Sato’s team. Kawasaki (15-3) shot 60.9 percent overall and converted 57.1 percent of its 3-point shots, getting long-range buckets from seven different players in the series finale at Todoroki Arena.
The Brave Thunders ran the pick-and-roll with impressive results, spaced the floor well and stayed aggressive on offense from start to finish. They never trailed.
“(Strong) defense and offense and team play” were keys to victory, according to Sato, who also hailed the team’s bench players for making key contributions.
Kawasaki received a big boost from backups Naoya Kumagae (14 points, 6-for-9 shooting) and Mathias Calfani (12 points). Point guard Ryusei Shinoyama finished with 14 points, including 7 of 7 from 2-point range, and a game-high seven assists. Naoto Tsuji had 11 points and five assists, with Nick Fazekas and Yuto Otsuka scoring nine and eight points, respectively.
The Golden Kings (10-7) faced a 51-37 deficit entering the second half. They cut it to 74-65 early in the fourth on a Narito Namizato jumper.
But Kawasaki was far from finished. The hosts used a 13-4 spurt in the fourth to seal the win. Three Shinoyama layups, Calfani 3 and an Otsuka 3 were among the highlights during the big run that stretched the lead to 91-71 with under 4 minutes left.
Like a Pro Bowl running back zooming past defenders, Shinoyama dashed past foes and found holes in the defense en route to the basket time after time.
“It was a game in which we were greeted with various adversities today,” said Ryukyu assistant coach Hiroki Fujita, who addressed the media after the game instead of bench boss Norio Sassa.
Fujita cited Kawasaki’s 98-point output, saying the Kings defense “must be modified.”
Jack Cooley led Ryukyu with 17 points. Newcomer Eugene Phelps had 16 and Naoki Tashiro 15.
Jets 73, Grouses 72 (OT)
In Toyama, star guard Yuki Togashi sank a go-ahead outside jumper with 18 seconds remaining in overtime to lift Chiba to its second weekend win over the hosts.
Togashi had a 20-point, seven-assist performance for the Jets (11-7). Big man Gavin Edwards supplied 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Leo Lyons paced Toyama (5-13) with 25 points.
Sunrockers 92, Susanoo Magic 85
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Shibuya’s Big Three played a pivotal role in a series-opening victory over the Susanoo Magic.
Ryan Kelly provided 27 points and nine rebounds for the Sunrockers (13-4), while Sebastian Saiz chipped in with 22 and 11. Leo Vendrame scored 12 points and handed out eight assists.
For Shimane (6-11), Robert Carter finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds and Brian Qvale had a 23-point outing.
The teams face off again on Monday.
Northern Happinets 85, Alvark 74
In Akita, Masashi Hosoya scored 17 points and Javier Carter poured in 16 as the hosts earned a bounce-back victory over Tokyo.
The Northern Happinets (10-7) held the Alvark to 4-for-19 shooting on 3s.
Seiya Ando and Alex Kirk each scored 15 points for Tokyo (13-5).
Evessa 86, Hannaryz 80
In Kyoto, Gonzaga University product Ira Brown netted 22 point and Takuya Hashimoto delivered a season-high 21-point effort as Osaka handed the Hannaryz their seventh consecutive loss.
Hashimoto had scored a total of 15 points in his four previous games before Sunday’s series finale. He made 9 of 13 shots from the floor for the Evessa (12-5).
Julian Mavunga paced Kyoto (8-10) with 31 points and 10 assists.
Levanga 78, NeoPhoenix 55
In Sapporo, shooting guard Tsukasa Nakano made his first start of the season and capitalized on the opportunity with a season-high 16 points for Hokkaido. The 23-year-old was 4-for-7 on 3-point attempts.
Frontcourt mates Kennedy Meeks (19 points, 12 rebounds and Markeith Cummings (18 points) also had pivotal performances for the Levanga (9-9), who dropped the series opener.
Takanobu Nishikawa and Mickell Gladness both scored 11 points for San-en (1-17).
Lakestars 82, SeaHorses 73
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, veteran leader Craig Brackins’ 25-point effort and Yusuke Kurino’s 16 points helped carry Shiga past struggling Mikawa.
The Lakestars (7-11) outscored the visitors 27-16 in the third quarter.
J.R. Sakuragi, who had 21 points, was the high scorer for the SeaHorses (4-14), who lost their consecutive contest.
B-Corsairs 67, Albirex BB 63
In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Aki Chambers led Yokohama’s balanced offensive attack with 15 points as coach Tom Wisman’s club earned a series sweep of the hosts.
B-Corsairs newcomer James Southerland added 14 points despite shooting 5-for-18 from the floor and Ryo Tawatari matched Southerland’s scoring total for Yokohama (7-10).
Nick Perkins had 30 points on 12-for-16 shooting for the Albirex (5-13).
Brex 87, Diamond Dolphins 71
In Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, Utsunomiya completed a weekend sweep of Nagoya, extending its winning streak to seven.
The Brex (14-4) received an inspired performance from Hironori Watanabe, who finished with 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting and seven assists. Forward Ryan Rossiter contributed 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, while Shuhei Kitagawa had 15 points.
Makoto Kinoshita led the Diamond Dolphins (9-9) with a season-best 21 points.