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Golden Kings, challenger Fukuoka split 2-game series

Date Posted: 2010-02-11

The Ryukyu Golden still have a grip on their Western Conference lead as the Basketball Japan League rolls into the second half of the season, but the Rizing Fukuoka is nipping at their heels.

In the opening series after the All Star break, Okinawa picked up a 77-71 home court victory Saturday afternoon behind the game-high 26 points racked up by Anthony McHenry. McHenry’s shooting included an inspiring 12-for-14 at the free throw stripe. Center George Leach popped in 13 points while pulling down 17 rebounds and blocking two shots against Fukuoka.

Things went the other way on Sunday, with Fukuoka rallying in the fourth quarter after trailing through the first three, then going on to dump the conference leaders 96-87. “Fukuoka was better,” says Okinawa head coach Dai Oketani. “They moved fast and were precise in developing their game.” The Kings had a two-point lead going to the fourth stanza, only to be outscored 30-19.

“It was a very tough game,” was how Fukuoka’s head coach, Tadaharu Ogawa, described the contest. “We won this time because our teamwork was good.” Rizing Fukuoka and the Ryukyu Golden Kings are now 2-2 against each other this year. Okinawa holds the conference lead with a 20-10 record, while Rizing Fukuoka is close behind at 19-11.

Elsewhere in the league, the Saitama Broncos retaliated after an embarrassing 97-63 loss to the Niigata Albirex BB, rallying in the fourth quarter Sunday and forcing overtime as it beat Niigata 94-89 in front of the hometown crown in Tokorozawa Municipal Gymnasium. The victory gives the Broncos an 11-15 record, while Niigata is even at 14-14.

The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix hammered the Oita HeatDevils Sunday, 90-54, after losing the first encounter of the year with the HeatDevils Saturday, 100-92. The Eastern Conference leading Phoenix are now 22-6 with the best record in the league, while the HeatDevils fall to 13-17.

The Osaka Evessa racked up a pair of wins against the Shiga Lakestars, winning 75-66 Saturday behind the 21-point, 10-rebound performance of Lynn Washington and an 18-point scoring blitz by Ryan Blackwell, then winning 82-66 on Sunday. Washington again led the Evessa with 22 points and 11 rebounds as Osaka evened its record at 14-14. The Lakestars are now 15-17.

The Toyama Grouses thumped the Kyoto Hannaryz twice over the weekend, extending a five-game win streak to seven with an 87-77 win Saturday and a 71-69 squeaker victory on Sunday. The Grouses are now 12-14 and Kyoto drops to 11-17.

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