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Golden Kings pound Osaka; move to conference finals

Date Posted: 2009-05-10

The Ryukyu Golden Kings, a team that’s surprised everyone in its second year in the Basketball Japan League, continued flexing its power this week with a pair of playoff semi-final wins over the Rizing Fukuoka.
Playing before the home crowd in Naha City, the Golden Kings picked up a first game 76-69 win over the Rizing Fukuoka behind the strong rebounding skills of center Jeff Newton, who garnered 26 rebounds while scoring 21 points, while teammate Shigeyuki Kinjo picked up 17. Newton was a member of Indiana University’s NCAA Final Four team in 2002, and had played for the Osaka Evessa when it won the league championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
The Rizing Fukuoka gave Okinawa a momentary scare in the second match-up, taking and holding the lead trailing 20-16 after the first quarter and 29-27 at the half before Kinjo led a Golden Kings 12-3 rally in the third quarter to take the lead. The Golden Kings won the game 70-59. Bryan Simpson, a former airman at Kadena Air Base, fired a team-best 16 points and 11 rebounds in the contest.
Okinawa, the league’s top team with a regular season 41-11 record, defeated Rizing Fukuoka in all ten games they played this season. The Golden Kings, who finished its inaugural 2007-2008 season with a dismal 10-34 record, turned it around this year, with both players and coaches selected as among the league’s best. Even the fans were honored, being chosen as the best supporters and boosters.
Newton, selected the league’s Most Valuable Player a week ago, now takes the Golden Kings to Tokyo for the Western Conference Championship on May 16th. Newton and his squad will face his old teammates with the Osaka Evessa, who advanced to the finals with a sweep of the Takamatsu Five Arrows.

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