Oita stops Golden Kings home win streak at 22
Proving the old adage that any team can beat any other team on a given day, the mediocre Oita HeatDevils stunned the league-leading Ryukyu Golden Kings, ripping Okinawa in front of its home fans to halt its winning streak at home at 22 games.
The Golden Kings, leading the league with a 37-7 record, had easily picked up a win in the first game of their series at the Naha City Gymnasium, 75-65, their 22nd home win of the season. Okinawa had lost only one game at home, back on October 12th, and wasn’t expecting any trouble from the 19-25 Oita HeatDevils. It didn’t work out that way as Okinawa trailed from the outset, finally falling 81-69.
Draelon Burns was hot both days, picking up 10 points on Saturday and 21 in the losing cause Sunday. Okinawa Head Coach Tsutomu Isa noted that the “defense gave 80% of what we have prepared, but to overcome in the future, I will expect them to give 100%.” Kibwe Trim scored 13 Saturday and Naoto Kosuge contributed nine points, as did Narito Namizato.
Coach Isa’s fears were realized Sunday as his squad couldn’t find a spark, trailing by 15 after only the first quarter. Aside from Burns’ 21 points and 14 from Kibwe Trim, Naoto Kosuge picked up 10 while Jeff Newton and Morihisa Yamauchi scored seven. Okinawa’s coach Isa attributed part of the problem to “lacking players Ryuichi Kishimoto and Anthony Henry, but once again we were forced to see how difficult it is.” The Golden Kings’ defense wasn’t good, leading Oita Head Coach Yukinori Suzuki to feel elated that “the endurance of the 40 minutes was what led to this victory, but also because we were able to take the offensive rebounds.”
The Golden Kings are on the road this weekend, venturing into Niigata Prefecture to face the 27-19 Albirex BB. The Albirex last weekend pushed the defending league champion Yokohama B-Corsairs farther from a shot at the playoffs, handing them an eighth loss in 10 games, 92-82. Yokohama battled back with a 95-89 overtime win on Sunday, but it appears too little, too late as the B-Corsairs are in the eighth spot in the conference, with only six going to the playoffs next month.
Elsewhere, the Shiga Lakestars handed the Shimane Susanoo Magic a pair of losses, 95-75 and 66-64. Shiga’s 24-22 and in the playoff hunt, while the 7-37 Magic are not. The Iwate Big Bulls continued their romp, improving to 31-12 with a pair of wins over the Hamamatsu Phoenix, 89-69 and 87-75. Hamamatsu is still in the playoffs race with its 25-19 record. The Saitama Broncos beat up on the Tokyo Cinq Reves Saturday, 101-66, but couldn’t keep the pressure going against the 12-32 Tokyo squad, which picked up a 74-67 Sunday win. Saitama’s cellar dwelling record is 5-39.
The Aomori Wat’s picked up a pair of wins over the Shinshu Brave Warriors, 90-85 and 82-72 to push its record to 23-21. The Brave Warriors slide to 27-17 with the two losses. The Osaka Evessa, meanwhile, split a series with the Nara Bambitious. The Bambitious won 87-75 in the series opener, but Osaka bounced back with a 72-62 win on Sunday. Osaka’s now 21-25, while the Bambitious are out of contention at 14-30. The Fukuoka Rizing outlasted the Takamatsu Five Arrows 76-72, then held on Sunday to an 80-67 win to improve to 23-21 on the season. The Five Arrows are 18-26.
The Toyama Grouses stretched their season record to 36-10 with a pair of wins over the struggling Gunma Crane Thunders. Saturday’s 97-87 win was nothing compared with the 91-69 pounding dished out to Gunma on Sunday. The wins push the Grouses into a tie for the Eastern Division lead with Akita. Akita edged the Sendai 89ers 99-97 on Saturday, but fell on Sunday, 112-91to allow Toyama to catch up and tie the conference lead.