• SHARE

The Eneos Sunflowers overcame the loss of their star player Ramu Tokashiki to successfully extend their title streak to eight at the annual single-elimination All-Japan Championship with an 87-80 win over the Toyota Antelopes at Tokyo’s Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2 on Sunday.

It was the 25th Empress’ Cup that the Sunflowers hoisted, the most of all time. With eight straight titles, the Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture-based club has also drawn even with Nichibo Hirano, whose record started in 1965, for the tournament’s longest championship streak.

It was an emotion victory for the Sunflowers, who competed without ace forward/center Tokashiki. The team announced on Saturday that the 29-year-old, considered a key part of Japan’s hopes of medaling at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, had torn her right ACL.

The Sunflowers were also missing another inside player in Kadysha Juna Umezawa, their second-leading scorer behind Tokashiki.

Sunflowers guard Saori Miyazaki (left) attacks the Antelopes basket during the second quarter on Sunday at Tokyo's Yoyogi National Gymnasium. | KAZ NAGATSUKA
Sunflowers guard Saori Miyazaki (left) attacks the Antelopes basket during the second quarter on Sunday at Tokyo’s Yoyogi National Gymnasium. | KAZ NAGATSUKA

Eneos, the 11-time defending Women’s Japan Basketball League champion, came through in the second half and took their first lead of the game in the final moments of the third quarter.

The final stanza completely belonged to the Sunflowers, who kept scoring through quick guards Sayaka Okamoto and Saori Miyazaki — the two racked up nine and 10 points in the quarter alone, respectively.

“We’ve had so many injured players and had to play with whom we have. But we were still sticking with winning this game,” said forward Yuki Miyazawa, who scored 18 points for Eneos and was named the tournament MVP.

The Antelopes failed to capture their first trophy in eight years at the event.

Eneos' Saori Miyazaki (second from left) embraces teammate Ramu Tokashiki after the team's victory over the Antelopes. | KAZ NAGATSUKA
Eneos’ Saori Miyazaki (second from left) embraces teammate Ramu Tokashiki after the team’s victory over the Antelopes. | KAZ NAGATSUKA

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)