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Hamamatsu Phoenix thump Okinawa to win second title

Date Posted: 2011-05-28

The Hamamatsu Higashi-mikawa Phoenix proved in no uncertain terms theyユre the best team in the Basketball Japan League, hammering the Ryukyu Golden Kings 82-68 to claim the league championship.
It was a second straight league title for the Phoenix. Last year it was a third place finish for the Golden Kings. The Golden Kings took the title in 2008-2009. The Phoenix, the league's best team in terms of win-loss record at 40-6, was never rattled during the game at Tokyo's Ariake Coliseum, despite Okinawa holding a 17-13 lead briefly early in the contest, and managing to pull to within four points, 63-59, with 4:09 left in the game.

The Hamamatsu Higashi-mikawa Phoenix's 70-year-old head coach, Kazuo Nakamura, was happy with the win, but said ”as far as the game, we probably played our worst game of the year.” His team had sailed through the regular season never losing more than two games in a row, and only six games total.
Anthony McHenry tallied 19 points as the lead scorer for Okinawa, with Naoto Kosuge picking up 13. The Ryukyu Golden Kings committed 20 turnovers, while Hamamatsu out-rebounded Okinawa 59-40. Kosuge lamented the Golden Kings ”failed to seize the momentum”, and said he could only describe the outcome as ”no other word except I'm disappointed. We could have gone more aggressively and we probably should have.”

The Osaka Evessa rebounded from their loss to Okinawa a day earlier, topping the Niigata Albirex BB 85-75 for the third place trophy. The 35-19 Evessa played aggressively against the 22-22 Albirex, that made it into the playoffs because of three teams having withdrawn from league action following the March 11th earthquake in eastern Japan.

The Ryukyu Golden Kings earned the championship round berth by defeating archrival Osaka 82-76 Saturday night for the Western Conference title, a reversal from the upset they suffered at the Evessa hands last year, 84-56. The Phoenix won the Eastern Conference title with an 88-74 win over the Niigata Albirex BB.

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