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West rallies to win BJ-League All-Star contest

Date Posted: 2010-02-03

Ryukyu Golden Kings center George Leach teamed with Yu Okada of the Takamatsu Five Arrows in the final minute of play to rally the Western Conference to a 105-102 All-Star victory over the Basketball Japan League’s Eastern Conference Sunday in Rifu, Miyagi Prefecture.

The Western Conference had trailed in the contest, with the East leading 102-99 following a layup by Wendell White with just over a minute to play. Okada then popped a three-pointer from the top of the key after getting a pass from Osaka’s Lynn Washington. Fouled on the play, he then casually sank the free throw that put the West ahead 103-102 with only 54 seconds remaining. Leach, a former Indiana University star, put the game on ice with a two-point basket of his own.

Five players from each squad scored in double figures in the All-Star Game played at Sekisui Heim Super Arena in front of 6,091 fans. Forward Michael Parker of the Rizing Fukuoka, who leads the league in scoring with a 26.7 points per game average, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Wendell White, who played with the University of Nevada Las Vegas, picked up the Most Impressive Player award, given to the best player on the losing team.

The 2011 All-Star Game will be played in Osaka, according to the Osaka Evessa president, Mitsunori Uehara. No date has been announced.

Regular season action resumes this weekend, with the Ryukyu Golden Kings facing the Rizing Fukuoka at home. Saturday’s contest at the Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan City begins at 7 p.m. Sunday’s game starts at 2 p.m. The Golden Kings, the Western Conference leader with a 19-7 overall record on the season, goes into action without its heavy scorer, Jeff Newton. Newton suffered a dislocated shoulder a week ago playing against the Kyoto Hannaryz. He’s expected to be out of action until April.

Newton’s 15.4 points per game average, coupled with an 11.6 rebounds per game statistic, make him a tough player to do without. The Golden Kings are expected to draw on George Leach and Yosuke Sugawara, as well as Anthony McHenry, Bryan Simpson and Tsubasa Yonamine to pick up the slack. Okinawa already lost the services of Shigeyuki Kinjo, whose 18 points per game average have been missing since he suffered a knee injury last November 27th.

Okinawa, which won the 2008-2009 B-J League Championship, remains a favorite to win the Western Conference title this year, but is facing a strong challenge from the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, which is expected to sweep the Eastern Conference. The Phoenix are 21-5 this year as they head toward their first conference title.

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