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Monday, Nov. 5, 2007
Apache survive Broncos' late charge
By ED ODEVEN
The Tokyo Apache survived the Saitama Broncos' ferocious fourth-quarter comeback and wrapped up the season-opening weekend with a 90-86 victory on Sunday afternoon at Ariake Colosseum.
The Broncos (0-2), who trailed 71-52 entering the final period, cut the hosts' lead to 86-82 on Gordon James' three-point play with 42.8 seconds left.
Then Tokyo's Cohey Aoki, a 93.3 percent free-throw shooter last season, missed the front end of a one-and-one. James grabbed the rebound and passed the ball to point guard Aaron Sakai Lawrence, who dished it off to Mamadou Diouf.
Diouf, dribbling the ball near the basket and looking for a Bronco near the top of the 3-point circle, passed the ball. . .to the wrong guy. Credit Aoki's quick feet and sure hands for enabling him to make the steal. He then zoomed up court for a timely layup, pushing the lead to 88-82. Lawrence nailed a jumper to trim the margin to four.
But with 5.7 seconds remaining, John "Helicopter" Humphrey, the two-time reigning bj-league scoring champion, made two free throws to account for the final score. He finished with 17 points and three steals.
Saitama missed two shots on its final trip down the floor.
Tokyo improved to 2-0 before a crowd of 6,058. The home opener on Saturday night attracted 7,754 people.
"It was another good game for us," a relieved Joe Bryant, Tokyo's third-year head coach said, in the postgame interview room. "It's important that we win at home.
"In the fourth period, Saitama came back and played with a lot of energy, but you expect that from a professional team. . . .They did what they had to do."
Indeed, Tokyo center Nick Davis did too. The All-Star center scored 25 points for the second straight game. He finished with nine rebounds and three assists. Starting point guard Jun Iwasa had 10 points and three assists, swingman Lee Jung Jun chipped in with eight points off the bench and Aoki and Dameion Baker had seven apiece.
Center Andrew Feeley led the Broncos with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Taishiro Shimizu scored 20, including a 4-for-6 effort from 3-point range.
James led the Saitama comeback, scoring 13 fourth-quarter points on 5-for-7 shooting and was 3-for-4 from the foul line. The league's reigning rebound king had four of his 12 rebounds and two steals in the period and finished with 19 points. Diouf had 15 points.
"The guys that come off the bench have to understand that no matter what the score is they have to play with a high level of energy," Bryant said.
"To be a great team, and that's what we want to be, when you have someone down by 20, you want to win by 40."