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Golden Kings edged out of first place

Date Posted: 2010-04-09

A pair of Ryukyu Golden Kings losses coupled with an Osaka Evessa victory and the nuances of win-loss statistics pushed Osaka to a narrow sliver of a lead in the Basketball Japan League’s Western Conference standings.

Okinawa stumbled and fell twice to the fourth-place Shiga Lakestars, losing 77-70 Saturday and 68-58 on Sunday. The two road losses for the Golden Kings were disastrous, dropping their record to 27-17.

The Osaka Evessa, who began the weekend in third place behind Okinawa and Rizing Fukuoka, took on Rizing and came away with a pair of wins, 89-61 and 91-81, to mathematically move into the Western Conference first place slot. Osaka, now 26-16, has a slightly higher winning percentage (.619) than Ryukyu’s (.614). Rizing Fukuoka is 26-18.

All in all, it’s a tight contest, with fourth place Shiga nipping at everyone’s heels as the season moves into the final month. Shiga is now 24-20, only four games off the pace. George Leach led Okinawa Saturday with 20 points, picking up another 11 on Sunday.

Elsewhere, The Sendai 89ers scored a pair of home court victories over the Saitama Broncos. Josh Peppers’ 29 points led to Saturday’s 99-83 win, while Chris Holm and Gyno Pomare combined for 39 points and 27 rebounds in Sendai’s 82-67 Sunday rout. The 89ers are now 29-13, while the Broncos fell to 13-29.

The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix pounded out a 93-81 win Saturday over the visiting Tokyo Apache, only to have the Apache rally Sunday for an 89-76 win. The Eastern Conference leading Phoenix are now 33-9. The Niigata Albirex and Toyama Grouses split a weekend series, with the Grouses winning Saturday 86-65, then falling Sunday 83-59 to Niigata. Niigata is now 21-21, while the Grouses are 15-27.

The Takamatsu Five Arrows snapped an eight-game losing streak Saturday, upending the Kyoto Hannaryz 90-79. Kyoto bounced back Sunday to give its new head coach, Kazuto Aono, his first win, 98-82. The Hannaryz, which saw David Benoit replaced as coach last week, ended a six-game losing streak with the win against the Five Arrows.

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