The Sunrockers Shibuya pulled ahead late and finished strong in an 84-79 victory on Sunday over the Akita Northern Happinets in a game that was a near replica of the series opener.
Shibuya (27-14), which dropped the opener 87-83, outscored Akita 14-4 to close out the game at Aoyama Gakuin Memorial Hall.
A Takatoshi Furukawa 3-pointer put the Northern Happinets (19-22) ahead 75-70 with 3:13 remaining.
Playing without spectators due to the COVID-19 outbreak and in only their second game since Feb. 16, the Sunrockers made several big plays from that point on, erasing the lead and fending off the visitors’ comeback hopes.
Igniting the comeback, Kosuke Ishii, who scored 12 of his season-high 18 points in the second half, fed the ball to Sebastian Saiz in the low post. The big man from Spain drew the foul, then sank two free throws. That cut it to 75-72. Moments later, Kenta Hirose buried back-to-back 3-pointers, the second of which gave the hosts a 78-75 lead with 1:40 to play.
Akita pulled within 78-77 on a pair of Masashi Hosoya free throws before Saiz, who finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Morihisa Yamauchi, who dished out seven assists, made timely buckets to extend the lead to four with 52 seconds left.
Two turnovers in a 27-second span in the final minute sealed Akita’s doom.
Ryan Kelly scored 14 of his 16 points after the intermission for Shibuya, which had 24 assists and seven turnovers. He led all players with four steals. Hirose added 12 points and Shuto Tawatari contributed eight. Ishii sank 4 of 8 from long range.
After the game, Ishii insisted his club did a better job handling Akita’s tenacious pressure defense in the rematch. The hosts had nine fewer turnovers in the series finale.
“It was a good feeling to come back and get the win,” Hirose said.
Sunrockers bench boss Tsutomu Isa thanked fans for their continuous support, noting they followed the team’s weekend games via social media and the internet. Citing the fact that it was a physical game (the teams shot a combined 61 free throws), Isa credited his players “for their toughness and high-energy effort” to snatch the win.
Javier Carter paced the Happinets with 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Kadeem Coleby had 14 points, Furukawa added 13 and Takuya Nakayama scored 11. The visitors committed 18 turnovers.
Fatigue played a factor, said Nakayama, who cited the long layoff before Saturday. “I was tired,” he said.
Akita coach Kenzo Maeda said his team finished poorly, especially in the last two minutes.
“Under pressure from Shibuya’s intense defense, many turnovers were made and the game was very difficult,” Maeda said.
Carter said he was pleased the team “was able to earn a weekend split” against a tough team at home.
Throughout the game, reporters heard coaches and players barking out instructions and encouragement — shouts of “ball pressure, ball pressure!” from the Shibuya bench; “get a stop, get a stop, get a stop!” from the Akita bench.
Brave Thunders 97, Levanga 71
In Kawasaki, Nick Fazekas had 28 points on 11-for-16 shooting and 14 rebounds to lead the hosts past the Levanga a day after three Hokkaido players had a fever, which forced the series opener to be canceled due to precautionary measures for the new coronavirus.
Jordan Heath contributed 20 points and 10 boards for the Brave Thunders (31-9), while Pablo Aguilar, who hails from Spain, had 12 points and 11 rebounds in his Kawasaki debut.
Markeith Cummings paced the Levanga (13-27) with 25 points.
Evessa 93, Susanoo Magic 80
In Osaka, Takuya Hashimoto sparked the Evessa with 24 points and six assists as the hosts completed a series sweep of Shimane.
Josh Harrellson chipped in with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Osaka (26-15).
Brian Qvale led the Susanoo Magic (11-30) with 26 points and Hiromu Kitagawa added 19
Diamond Dolphins 83, Hannaryz 70
In Kyoto, Jamel McLean energized Nagoya with a 24-point, 10-rebound, four-steal outing in a bounce-back win over the Hannaryz.
Justin Burrell also made a big impact for the Diamond Dolphins (17-24), finishing with 19 points, 18 rebounds and five assists.
Jessie Govan had 22 points and 12 boards for Kyoto (20-21) and David Simon also notched a double-double (21 points, 14 rebounds).
Alvark 85, Lakestars 60
In Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, Daiki Tanaka had a game-high 20 points and Tokyo played stellar defense in its second weekend triumph over the hosts.
The Alvark (32-9) pressured the Lakestars into making 21 turnovers.
Alex Kirk provided 12 points and 10 boards for Tokyo and Shohei Kikuchi added 11 points and doled out eight assists.
Yusuke Karino had 18 points and Takumi Saito added 16 for Shiga (21-20). Lakestars standouts Jeff Ayres, Henry Walker and Craig Brackins didn’t play during the weekend series.
NeoPhoenix 80, Grouses 79 (OT)
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Hayato Kawashima sank a go-ahead 3 with 1:04 left in overtime, helping San-en salvage a weekend split with Toyama.
Neither team scored after Kawashima’s clutch 3. He finished with a team-best 20 points. Viacheslav Kravtsov had 18 points and Tatsuya Suzuki handed out seven assists for the NeoPhoenix (5-36).
Leo Lyons was the high scorer (27 points, 9-for-30 shooting) for the Grouses (17-24). He also had 13 rebounds and eight assists. Isaac Butts added 21 points and 15 rebounds, Satoru Maeda scored 14 points and Naoki Uto had 12 points and nine assists.
Golden Kings 83, Albirex BB 69
In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Ryukyu raced out to a 19-6 lead by the end of the first quarter and went on to earn a series sweep.
Golden Kings star Jack Cooley filled the stat sheet with 31 points and 21 rebounds.
De’Mon Brooks scored 20 points and Narito Namizato contributed 12 points and 12 assists for Ryukyu (27-14).
Nick Perkins led the Albirex (13-28) with 22 points.
SeaHorses 96, B-Corsairs 82
In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Mikawa sharpshooter Kosuke Kanamaru canned a league-record 11 3s and shot 25-for-39 from the field in a 45-point outburst against Yokohama. It was the third-highest individual scoring performance in the B. League’s first division. The league played its first game in September 2016.
The SeaHorses improved to 18-23. The B-Corsairs fell to 11-30.
Brex at Jets — canceled
In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, the B. League called off Sunday’s series finale after one of the game officials had a fever of 37.5 C or more after he entered the building.
The Brex (31-19) won the series opener on Saturday. The Jets fell to 28-12 with the loss.