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Golden Kings capture Western Conference title

Date Posted: 2011-04-29

It wasn’t even close as the Ryukyu Golden Kings invaded Miyazaki over the weekend to trounce the Shining Suns en route to winning the Basketball Japan League Western Conference title and claim the number one seed for the upcoming playoffs.

Okinawa made it look easy as it rolled to a 113-82 win Saturday and a 94-61 shellacking of the 13-37 Miyazaki squad on Sunday. The wins gave the Golden Kings the conference title over the Osaka Evessa, which took second and also earned a first round bye in the league championship tournament.

David Palmer, a former league MVP, paced the Golden Kings Saturday with 26 points, while Anthony McHenry popped in 20, and Carlos Dixon with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Team leader Jeff Newton racked up 16 rebounds to accompany his seven points, while Tsubasa Yonamine had 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Dillion Sneed poured in 10 points, Yasufumi Takushi scored nine and Shigeyuki Kinjo tallied seven.

Sunday saw Takehiko Shimura, a veteran Sendai 89ers player under temporary contract with the Golden Kings following his team’s shutdown for the year following the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, lead Okinawa Sunday with 14 points, including four three-pointers. Dixon followed with 13, McHenry with 12 and Newton nine. The victories lead Okinawa to a 34-16 regular season record as the team heads for mainland Japan for the playoffs.

The Osaka Evessa struggled Saturday, falling to Rizing Fukuoka 87-84, but bounced back Sunday to register an 86-71 win Sunday and second place in the Western Conference. It thus earned the West’s number 2 seed for the playoffs, enough to gain a first round bye. Osaka finished the regular season 32-18, while the Rizing was 30-30. Rizing Fukuoka’s also in the playoffs as No. 3 seed, despite being tied with the Shiga Lakestars. The tiebreaker for the seed spot was the accumulated point differential, the difference in points scored and those allowed.

The Basketball Japan League playoffs start May 7th and 8th with the Western Conference semi-finals, setting the stage for the Final Four games on May 21st and 22nd in Tokyo’s Ariake Colosseum. The first Western Conference playoff games are on Wednesday, with the expansion Shimane Susanoo facing Rizing Fukuoka, and The Shiga Lakestars against the Kyoto Hannaryz.

Elsewhere in final weekend league play, the Shiga Lakestars swept a pair from the lowly Takamatsu Five Arrows to wrap the regular season with a 30-20 record and head for the playoffs. The Lakestars won Saturday 93-83, and Sunday 95-80. The Five Arrows finish 10-38.

The Kyoto Hannaryz, playing only its second year in the league, swept a pair from the Susanoo Magic, 106-88 and 98-89. The Hannaryz are 28-20 on the season, while the Susanoo Magic is 25-25. The Toyama Grouses and the Northern Happinets split on the Grouses winning 80-78 in a nip-and-tuck Saturday game, only to fall 88-63 on Sunday. The Grouses finish 13-31, while the Happinets move on to the playoffs and a first round Eastern Conference matchup with the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix.

The Phoenix, in an exceedingly rare performance, found itself on the losing end of a 78-75 score Saturday against the Niigata Albirex BB. The league leading Phoenix and its 40-6 record, won Sunday 80-69.

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