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Monday, May 5, 2008

BJ-LEAGUE

89ers top Fukuoka for third place


Staff writer

Bobby St. Preux scored 15 fourth-quarter points to lead the Sendai 89ers to a 95-91 win over the Rizing Fukuoka in Sunday's bj-league third-place game.

St. Preux drained three 3-pointers in the final 4-plus minutes, sparking the Sendai squad to a come-from-behind win.

Fukuoka (21-26) trailed 47-40 at halftime but went on an 18-0 run to start the third quarter. Michael Parker, who scored a game-high 32 points, was the Rizing's top offensive weapon during the spurt, using tip-ins, stickbacks and a powerful slam to put points on the board.

Sendai regained its offensive rhythm and outscored Fukuoka 35-27 in the final quarter.

But first it had to mount a big comeback.

The Rizing led 72-62 with 8:22 to play after a Trevon Bryant basket.

St. Preux's second 3-pointer down the stretch tied it at 81-81 with 2:15 left. Ryan Blackwell sank two free throws to give his team the lead seconds later.

After the loss, Rizing coach John Neumann said, "Today we came back with a lot of heart. We played defense until we were tired. . . . We proved today we can play with anybody in the league on any given night."

Neumann said the 89ers made some big 3-point shots and converted on foul shots when they had to.

Reflecting on the bounce-back win for his team after an emotional two-point loss to Tokyo in Saturday night's second semifinal, 89ers coach Honoo Hamaguchi said his club "had to play with a professional demenaor because it was a tough game to play.

"It could've been a pickup game or a practice for some players, but I wanted to win." ##

St. Preux made that wish a reality.

"He's a (strong) shooter," Hamaguchi said of St. Preux. "If he hits one shot, he'll hit the next one. . . . I really trust him. That's why I use him for 40 minutes."

Michael Gardener scored 22 and Jeffrey Price sadded 20 for the Rizing, who had 31 offensive rebounds.

For Sendai, Blackwell scored 22, Nick DeWitz 11 and Patrick Whearty 10.



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