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Sunday, April 6, 2008

BJ-LEAGUE

Evessa make statement with rout over 89ers in playoff-like showdown


Staff writer

Saturday's Osaka Evessa-Sendai 89ers game featured a playoff-like atmosphere at Osaka Central Gym.

A crowd of 5,336 fans provided an electric atmosphere for the bj-league's top two teams, who entered the game with identical 28-12 records and were in first place in their respective conferences.

The Evessa grabbed win No. 29, routing the out-of-towners 87-61.

Osaka shot a crisp 50 percent from 2-point range, knocking down 30 of 60 shots to make up for a poor shooting day from 3-point range (4-for-22).

Ex-Texas Tech player Mikey Marshall led the Evessa, the two-time defending champions, with 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, blocked two shots and picked up two steals. Kazuya Hatano scored 18 and cleared 10 boards. Matt Lottich (15 points), Lynn Washington (14) and Naoto Nakamura (11) rounded out the team's double-digit scoring, while Jeff Newton was steady in the middle, adding eight points, 12 boards and swatting three shots.

Osaka pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Sendai 30-14.

The 89ers were held to two scorers in double figures: Bobby St. Preux (21) and Patrick Whearty (11). Kenichi Takahashi was next with nine.

In Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, the visiting Tokyo Apache overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit, rallying for an 81-78 win over the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Tokyo (24-17) trailed 70-57 with 5:39 remaining.

Ryukyu fell to 10-31.

Apache center Nick Davis set the tone for his team on defense, blocking seven shots. He also scored 11 and had an 18-rebound outing. Dameion Baker was Tokyo's high scorer with 17 points, John "Helicopter" Humphrey contributed 15 and Cohey Aoki 14.

For the Golden Kings, Eric Walton had a team-high 23 and Naoto Takushi contributed 17.

The visiting Takamatsu Five Arrows improved to 28-13 with a 91-80 win over the Oita HeatDevils.

All-Star center George Leach had a team-best 26 points and 16 rebounds for Takamatsu, Yu Okada added 15 points, Hiroyuki Kikuchi and Isaac Sojourner had 13 apiece and steady Rasheed Sparks had a 10-point, nine-rebound, six-assist effort.

Justin Allen finished with 21 points and 20 rebounds for Oita (19-22).

Elsewhere, the Rizing Fukuoka topped the host Toyama Grouses 99-88. Michael Gardener was the game-high scorer with 29 points to go along with 10 assists for the victors.

Fukuoka's Joshua Peppers added 24 and Kazuyuki Nakagawa contributed 13.

The Rizing improved to 17-24.

Robby Joyner's 21 points led Toyama (6-35), while Masayuki Kabaya had 16.

The host Niigata Albirex BB held off the pesky Saitama Broncos, posting a 67-61 triumph.

Veteran forward Matt Garrison was the No. 1 scorer, finishing with 19 points for the Albirex (24-17), while Rodney Webb netted 15 and Yuichi Ikeda 12.

For Saitama (20-21), Gordon James had a 14-point, 21-rebound performance and Taishiro Shimizu had 13.

In this low-scoring contest, the Broncos trailed 44-40 entering the final quarter.



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