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Golden Kings power way into playoffs

Date Posted: 2012-03-07

The Ryukyu Golden Kings barely broke sweat as they pushed their way past the Susanoo Magic in front of home fans over the weekend as they accomplished their first objective; they’re the first Basketball Japan League team to qualify for the playoffs.

In front of screaming fans at Ginowan City Gym, the Okinawa squad pulled off an 81-63 win Saturday with Anthony McHenry and Narito Namizato both dumping in 14 points for the league-leaders. Namizato also picked up nine rebounds and seven assists, while teammates Dzaflo Larkai scored a dozen points and Jeff Newton added 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Golden Kings held the league’s three-time reigning scoring champion, Shimane star Michael Parker, to a season low 12 points.

Sunday was just as much fun for the Golden Kings as they whipped Shimane 85-75, again holding Parker to a season-low scoring total of nine points. Anthony McHenry led the Golden Kings with 20, while Narito Namizato tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds, and David Palmer scored 12 en route the win that pushed the Golden Kings to a 31-7 record, propelling the Okinawa team into the spring Western Conference playoffs.

Okinawa’s next goal is to win home court advantage. With 14 games left in the regular season, and running 12-2 since the start of 2012, they’re favored to do so after this weekend’s 10th straight home court win.

The Osaka Evessa, trailing Okinawa in the Western Conference, split a pair with the Yokohama B-Corsairs, losing to the visitors 66-59 Saturday before bouncing back to edge Yokohama 62-59 on Sunday. The Evessa are now 25-11, four games behind Okinawa. The Eastern Conference leading Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix upended the Kyoto Hannaryz 96-81 in the first match of their two-game stand in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, only to lose 98-87 in the second. The Phoenix are now 25-13, while the Hannaryz are on their heels at 23-13.

The Akita Northern Happinets split a series with the Fukuoka Rizing, winning Saturday 105-94, only to fall to the Rizing by a 104-82 margin on Sunday. The Rizing is now 23-13, still in playoff contention, as are the 23-15 Happinets. In a battle of the league expansion teams, the Shinshu Brave Warriors outdistanced the Chiba Jets 88-79 in their Saturday game, then did it again Sunday, 82-72.

The Niigata Albirex BB made it two in a row over the weekend, clobbering the Takamatsu Five Arrows 81-73 and 99-67 in a pair of games on the Five Arrows home court. Niigata improves to 21-17, while the hapless five arrows are now 2-34. The Oita HeatDevils outdistanced the Sendai 89ers 89-83 and 84-83 in their series at Oita.

The Grouses cleaned house in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, winning their series with the Saitama Broncos, 85-71and 85-84 as they rolled a 20-game winning season record for the first time in franchise record. They’re now 21-15. The Miyazaki Shining Suns split a pair with the Big Bulls, winning 79-73, and losing Sunday 77-69.

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