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Golden Kings alone in 1st place in Western Conference

Date Posted: 2011-04-07

The Ryukyu Golden Kings battled their way to an overtime victory over the team they were tied with atop the Basketball Japan League Western Conference standings Saturday, then had an easy time in Sunday’s contest to sweep two crucial games from the Osaka Evessa in front of the hometown crowds.

Okinawa took a 101-94 win in overtime after back-to-back field goals from Carlos Dixon in the final 3½ minutes kept them alive. The two squads entered the overtime period tied 88-88. Anthony McHenry popped a three-pointer and Shigeyuki Kinjo nailed two free throws with five seconds remaining to clinch the win. Six Golden Kings were in double figures Saturday: Naoto Kosugi with 18, Dixon with 17, Dillion Sneed with 13, Yasufumi Takushi 12, and Kinjo 11.

Golden Kings head coach Dai Oketani was cautiously pleased with his squad, noting though “we had some sloppy ball handling that we need to improve by tomorrow. It will be important that we take the points home tomorrow. We will absolutely win!”

That turned out to be true as the Golden Kings overpowered Osaka 102-73 on Sunday as they rallied their fourth straight 100+ points win. Jeff Newton paced the Okinawa team with 23 points and 14 rebounds, while Carlos Dixon added 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Naoto Kosuge had a 15-point game, while Anthony McHenry added 13 and Yasufumi Takushi 12 points.

The wins propelled Okinawa into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a 29-15 record. Osaka’s now two games behind at 27-17.

Elsewhere, the Shiga Lakestars continued to shine as they hammered the Oita HeatDevils 99-90 and 113-80 to stretch their record to 26-18. The HeatDevils, who’d been a playoff contender before a group of American players quit the team and head coach L.J. Hepp was fired, drops to 16-28.

Rizing Fukuoka wasn’t taking any nonsense from the Susanoo Magic, using its run-and—gun offense to overpower the Shimane squad in the second half Saturday for a 91-73 win. Sunday’s win was no less pleasing, winning 77-73 to stretch their win streak to six games. It’s nip-and-tuck though, as Rizing Fukuoka is now 27-17, while the Susanoo Magic is hanging tough at 20-24. The Northern Happinets won a pair from the Niigata Albirex BB, 9280 and 100-81 as the two non-contenders battled for bragging rights. The Happinets are now 15-29, while Niigata is 19-19.

The Miyazaki Shining Suns split a pair with the Takamatsu Five Arrows, winning 88-74 Saturday, then losing 100-85 on Sunday. Also non-contenders, Miyazaki is 13-31, while the Five Arrows are 10-32. The high flying Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix battled back from an unexpected loss a week ago to win a pair from the Toyama Grouses. The Phoenix now lead the Eastern Conference with an impressive 37-5 record. The Grouses fall to 12-28.

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