Golden Kings smash Oita HeatDevils
The Ryukyu Golden Kings are maintaining their stranglehold on the Western Conference lead, hammering the Oita HeatDevils, playing in a new venue in front of an Okinawa crowd.
The Golden Kings took their home excitement to Tomigusuku for the series against Oita, and Draelon Burns pumped up the spectators with his 21 points. Teammate Anthony McHenry tipped in 13 points while adding seven rebounds. Ryuichi Kishimoto contributed a dozen points, and Naoto Kosuge and Kibwe Trim each contributed 10 points.
Okinawa head coach Tsutomu Isa was happy “to play here at the brand new Tomigusuku Shimin Gymnasium, with a lot of local fans watching,” but wasn’t pleased with the team’s play. “We let Oita make open shots, and led ourselves to a bad mood,” he added, muttering that “though we won the game, it was not enjoyable for spectators.” Oita Head
Coach Yukinori Suzuki was disappointed, but thought he had solutions to “letting the Kings do the transitions in the first half; we thought we could fix that in the end.”
Sunday was all Okinawa, with the Golden Kings totally overrunning the visiting HeatDevils 98-65, to extend the season record to 29-5. More importantly, the Golden Kings moved to 16-2 in front of home fans, and were on fire from the free throw line Sunday afternoon, going 23-for-31. Anthony McHenry was lead scorer for Okinawa with 18, followed by Anthony Kent with 17 points and eight rebounds. Draelon Burns was close behind with 16 points, Kibwe Trim tallying 11 and Ryuichi Kishimoto 10 points.
Isa, the Golden Kings bench boss, was pleased “the first half was good, but we were so bad for the last 20 minutes. It was terrible.” Still, he thought, “local people enjoyed the game.” On the opposite side of the court, “We were beaten from the beginning through the end of the game in every aspect,” says Oita coach Suzuki. “Still, our team played hard, especially on defense, which means the Kings are much better than us.” Oita is now 12-22 on the year.
Elsewhere in the Basketball Japan League, the Osaka Evessa were on a roll, racking up a pair of wins over the Nara Bambitious in front of the Osaka home fans. Osaka cruised to an 86-76 Saturday win, and held onto its lead to win 82-78 on Sunday to extend its record to 21-13. The Bambitious are now 10-24. The Kyoto Hannaryz likewise had an easy Saturday, dumping on the Fukuoka Rizing 88-58. Sunday was just as much a roll, drubbing the Rizing 87-60 to extend their conference lead to 28-6. Fukuoka slides to 7-27.
The Iwate Big Bulls lost a heartbreaker Saturday to Niigata Albirex BB, 71-69, but poured on the steam in the second half of Sunday afternoon’s contest to win 86-69. The victory propelled Iwate to a 27-7 record, while giving head coach –and former Okinawa Golden Kings head coach—Dai Oketani his 300th victory. Oketani is now 300-152 in regular season league play. The Albirex are now 21-13.
The Fukushima Firebonds were smiling Sunday evening after sweeping a series from the Shinshu Brave Warriors. The Firebonds won 95-77 Saturday and 105-102 Sunday to push the squad over the .500 mark. Fukushima is 12-22, while the Brave Warriors are 13-19. The Shiga Lakestars were happy, too. They swept the Takamatsu Five Arrows 78-73 and 80-75, moving up the conference ladder to 21-11. Takamatsu, on the other hand, is now only 10-24.
The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix rumbled to a pair of victories over the Shimane Susanoo Magic in Fukuroi in Shuzuoka Prefecture. The Phoenix took the opener 94-74, then aced Sunday with a 93-71 win to move to 28-6, a game behind the Western Conference leading Ryukyu Golden Kings. The Sendai 89ers were equally successful, sweeping the Aomori Wat’s 74-54 and 93-66 to extend their record to 22-12 in conference play. Aomori is now even at 17-17.
The Toyama Grouses split their series with the Gunma Crane Thunders. Playing in Imizu, Toyama Prefecture, the Grouses won Saturday, 80-61, only to slip and fall 77-73 on Sunday. Toyama is now 24-10, while Gunma is 12-20.