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Apache, Phoenix square off in conference championship

Date Posted: 2009-05-14

The Tokyo Apache and the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix will go head to head Saturday in Tokyo’s Ariake Colosseum for the Eastern Conference title in the Basketball Japan League after stressful semi-final series.

Top-seeded Hamamatsu encountered a never-give-up attitude from the Niigata Albirex BB last weekend, losing in overtime to the Albirex BB in the first semi-final game. The Phoenix bounced back with a decisive 95-79 win Sunday to force a 10-minute mini-game tiebreaker, outgunning Niigata BB 37-24 to advance.

Michael Gardener made the difference for the Phoenix with his hot three-point shooting, pouring 28 points including six of 12 three-pointers in game two, then adding 18 points in the mini-game, including 4 of 6 three-pointers.

The Tokyo Apache, facing the Sendai 89ers in the other Eastern Conference semi-finals, had an easy time Saturday, only to face a tough 89ers team on Sunday. Sendai forced the game into overtime, waging a scrappy battle down to the wire, which saw Tokyo on top 79-78.

The winner of the Apache – Phoenix game Saturday night for the Eastern Conference Championship will take on either the Ryukyu Golden Kings or Osaka Evessa, the winner of the Western Conference Championship, on Sunday.

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