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Monday, Oct. 20, 2008

BJ-LEAGUE

Broncos edge Grouses to start season in style


Staff writer

Vying to make the playoffs for the first time since the bj-league began in the 2005, the Saitama Broncos took a positive step forward in their first series of the young season.

Coach David Benoit's squad completed a weekend sweep of the Toyama Grouses, earning a 61-58 road victory on Sunday. The Broncos also won Saturday's game by a three-point margin.

The Broncos are 2-0 for the first time since joining the bj-league as one of the original charter members.

Power forward Reggie Warren led the way for Saitama with a double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds), followed by center Antoine Broxsie's 12-point, 11-board effort. Guard Taishiro Shimizu poured in 15 points and backcourt mate Steven Horne chipped in with 10 points to go along with nine boards.

For the Grouses, who are coming off a 7-37 season, power forward Rodney Webb and Babacar Camara, both scored 16 points. The newcomers also combined for 24 rebounds; call this a positive sign for Toyama coach Masato Fukushima. Shooting guard Masayuki Kabaya, the team's most consistent scorer last season, had 11 points.

In other Week 2 action, the visiting Takamatsu Five Arrows improved to 2-0 with a 99-82 win over the Oita HeatDevils.

The Five Arrows outscored the hosts 33-18 in the first quarter.

Takamatsu's offense performed like a well-oiled machine. Power forward Gordon James was one of five Five Arrows to score in double figures, finishing with 20 points and a game-best 16 rebounds. Yu Okada had 15 points and five assists, Isaac Sojourner scored 12, Matt Garrison added 11 and Satoshi Takeda 10.

Five Arrows point guard Rasheed Sparks orchestrated the high-powered show, dishing out eight assists.

Five HeatDevils also reached double digits in points, including center James Wilkinson with 16 and David Reichel with 13. Daisuke Kimiduka and Tsubasa Yonamine had 11 points apiece.

The Sendai 89ers, meanwhile, improved to 1-1 by beating the host Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix 86-85.

89ers forward Bobby St. Preux scored the final two of his team-high 23 points when it mattered most: the game-winning basket with 6 seconds remaining. Rashad Tucker followed with 14 points, Chris Holm contributed 12 and 14 boards and Shinya Sato and Joe Barber added 11 points apiece. Guard Kenichi Takahashi helped Sendai pull off the win as well, finishing with nine points and five assists.

Michael Gardener gave the Phoenix (1-1) a 26-point, six-rebound, six assist performance, while Andy Ellis registered a 23-point afternoon. Josh Peppers and Adam Zahn each scored 10 and 236-cm Chinese center Sun Ming Ming had eight points.

Lakers beat Barcelona

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 28 points and the Los Angeles Lakers beat FC Barcelona, Pau Gasol's old team, 108-104 on Saturday in an exhibition game.

Gasol, who was born in Barcelona and lives there during the offseason, spent five years with the team he helped beat at Staples Center. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes.

"It was a lot of fun. It was a special game," Gasol said. "I have a few friends and former teammates there. It's always special to me, to play against the city where I was born."



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