Yokohama outlasts Fukuoka to win BJL championship

The Yokohama B-Corsairs fought long and hard Sunday afternoon to outplay the Rizing Fukuoka and set some records while winning the Basketball Japan League championship.

For starters, it was a first-ever championship for Yokohama in the league’s eight-season history, dumping Rizing Fukuoka 101-90 in front of 9,764 fans in Tokyo’s Ariake Colosseum.  It was also a history maker in terms of coaching; Yokohama’s Reggie Geary was the first foreign coach to ever lead a winning team to a championship.  “We never stopped believing,” Geary smiled moments after the final buzzer.  Geary, a former NBA guard, was elated when presented the championship trophy alongside league commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi.

The championship was something really special for Yokohama, which finished third in last season’s Final Four while playing as an expansion team.  This year the B-Corsairs had the second-best record in the 11-team Eastern Conference when they tied the Toyama Grouses at 35-17, a game behind the Niigata Albirex BB.

Rizing Fukuoka was taken down by 32 fouls against Yokohama’s 18, leaving a bitter Reggie Warren to complain about the officiating, but said “I take my hat off to Yokohama; they took advantage of the situation.  The 46-19 difference in free throws was “unheard of, and it was physical at both ends,” said Warren.

The Kyoto Hannaryz, the squad that ousted Okinawa in the semi-finals to end the Golden Kings’ reign, pressed in the consolation round of the championship series, defeating the Niigata Albirex BB, 79-72.  David Palmer paced Kyoto with 24 points, including going 8-for-8  at the free throw line.  “It was good to come back strong after a loss,” said Kyoto coach Honoo Hamaguchi, taking of his 83-66 loss to Rizing Fukuoka.