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Monday, Dec. 22, 2008

BJ-LEAGUE

Camara, Grouses complete series sweep over mercurial Broncos


Staff writer

The Toyama Grouses recorded their first back-to-back wins of the season on Sunday, posting a 78-69 victory over host Saitama Broncos.

The Grouses (6-12) opened the weekend with a 13-point victory on Saturday in a game highlighted by their defensive efficiency (12 blocked shots).

A day later, Senegalese center Babacar Camara led the Toyama attack with 24 points and frontcourt mate Rodney Webb chipped in with 14 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Terrence Woodyard and Haruhito Shishito added 11 points apiece, while Masayuki Kabaya, the team's most consistent player in 2007-08, had 10 points and four assists.

For Saitama (10-10), Steve Horne put 20 points on the board and Reggie Warren added 19 in the loss.

The Ryukyu Golden Kings, meanwhile, registered their 16th victory in 20 games, holding off the pesky Rizing Fukuoka 81-72 in Kyushu.

Chris Ayer and Jeff Newton, the inside anchors of the bj-league's best team, finished with 26 and 21 points, respectively. The duo combined for 32 rebounds (19 for Ayer).

Anthony McHenry's fine all-around play (14 points, nine rebounds, six assists) gave Ryukyu a boost as well. Shigeyuki Kinjo added seven points and Yosuke Sugawara's inspired play of late continued to the tune of seven points, five rebounds and six assists.

Coming off a heartbreaking 90-88 game on Saturday — a game in which John Neumann's club scored 40 fourth-quarter points and nearly overcame an 18-point deficit in the final period — Fukuoka got a team-high 23 points from forward Reo Logan. Michael Parker added 21 points and Tsuyoshi Kawazura poured in 15, but the Rizing fell to 8-12.

Elsewhere, the Takamatsu Five Arrows improved to 13-5 by beating the visiting Oita HeatDevils 81-74.

Gordon James provided the inside muscle — 27 points and 22 rebounds — to lead the Five Arrows to victory. Rasheed Sparks chipped in with 19 points and Hiroyuki Kikuchi had nine. Sparks and Yu Okada shared the team lead in assists (six apiece) as Takamatsu completed the series sweep.

James Wilkinson led Oita (4-12) with 20 points, Jeffrey Price had 19 and Yukinori Suzuki 18.

Nile Murry scored a game-high 33 points and dished out five assists to lead the three-time defending champion Osaka Evessa to a 100-89 home triumph over the Shiga Lakestars.

Two-time MVP Lynn Washington was at the top of his game, too. He finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Naoto Nakamura had an 18-point effort for the Evessa (12-8).

Ryan Rourke was the No. 1 scorer for Shiga (9-11) with 22 points. Four teammates scored in double figures, including Bobby Nash and Ray Schafer with 20 apiece, and Yosuke Machida with 12.

Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix's do-it-all guard Michael Gardener had a triple-double to lead his team to a 107-84 road victory over the Sendai 89ers.

Gardener scored 42 points, including 6-for-11 from 3-point range, for the second time this season. He also had 10 rebounds and 11 assists, solidifying his right to earn a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad. The league's showcase game will be played next month in Beppu, Oita Prefecture.

Stanley Ocitti added 18 points and Masahiro Oguchi had 10 for the Phoenix (10-10).

For Sendai (9-11), Hikaru Kusaka scored a season-best 23 points and handed out five assists. Chris Holm had an 18-point, 14-rebound effort and Kenichi Takahashi finished with 14 points.

The 89ers played their fourth straight game without forward Bobby St. Preux, the team's leading scorer (22.6 points per game).

Center Dokun Akingbade lifted the Niigata Albirex BB to an 83-72 win over the visiting Tokyo Apache, helping his team earn a series split.

Akingbade scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 16 boards. Yuichi Ikeda contributed 17 points, Calvin Chitwood had a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Naoto Kosuge added 11 as Niigata improved to 7-11.

For the Apache (12-6), ex-Albirex standout Nick Davis led the way with 19 points, while Tizzo Johnson and Cohey Aoki scored 13 apiece.

Masashi Joho, who ignited the Apache with a 24-point game on Dec. 14 against the Phoenix, finished with two points for the second straight game. In the series, Joho was held to 0-for-7 shooting from 3-point range and was 2-for-12 on 2-pointers and attempted zero foul shots.



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