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Friday, Feb. 27, 2009

BJ-LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Five Arrows aiming to continue good run


Staff writer

The Rizing Fukuoka face the daunting task of playing host to the Takamatsu Five Arrows this weekend. It's a job nearly as challenging as, well, hosting the Oscars.

The Five Arrows (25-9) enter this series with an 11-game winning streak. In addition, they have won the past three meetings against Fukuoka by 16, 18 and 16 points, respectively.

John Neumann's club beat Takamatsu 93-84 on Nov. 15 in the teams' first meeting this season.

For the Rizing (14-20), shooting guard Marlyn Bryant, the team's second-leading scorer at 16.8 points per game, could be the X-factor this weekend. He has become a solid No. 2 scorer behind All-Star Michael Parker (see below), and it'll be interesting to see how much defensive attention he commands from the Five Arrows.

In addition, point guard Tsuyoshi Kawazura (6.9 ppg) and backcourt mates Takanori Goya (6.1 ppg) and Kohei Mitomo (5.2 ppg) could rise to the challenge this weekend by picking up the scoring slack against the high-octane Five Arrows, who are No. 2 in the league in scoring (87.5 ppg).

Mitomo, in fact, appears primed to have a big game. The 28-year-old enters this series playing his best four-game stretch of the season, with 14-, 22-, 13-, and 17-point outings to his credit and a 16-for-16 effort from the foul line.

Prior to the past four games, Mitomo hadn't scored more than eight points in any game this season.

Up next: The weekend's other series are as follows: Saitama Broncos (13-21) vs. Tokyo Apache (22-12); Shiga Lakestars (13-21) vs. Ryukyu Golden Kings (26-8); Osaka Evessa (20-14) vs. Oita HeatDevils (7-27); Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix (23-11) vs. Toyama Grouses (10-24); and Niigata Albirex BB (15-19) vs. Sendai 89ers (16-18).

Productive scorer: Veteran forward Jerod Ward, a former University of Michigan player, has averaged 21.3 points over the past 11 games for Toyama.

Ward, who previously played for the Grouses in 2006-07, made his season debut on Jan. 11. He has topped the 30-point plateau three times.

Simple mathematics: Since the calendar flipped to 2009, Phoenix center Sun Ming Ming has three double-digit scoring outings in his team's 14 games. Here's a simple way to increase his chances of getting 10 or more: Have him take at least 10 shots every game.

Surprisingly, the 236-cm Sun has attempted 10 or more shots in only three games. And hey, it's sure to increase interest in the team if the big fellow becomes a more formidable scoring option for Kazuo Nakamura's club.

Steady hands: Fukuoka forward Michael Parker, the league's top scorer (26.5 ppg), has done a stellar job taking care of the basketball this season. In a league-high 1,342 minutes, he's turned the ball over just 57 times. He's taken 731 shots from the field in that time, too.

Did you know?: Among the league's most accurate free-throw shooters, two-time MVP Lynn Washington of the Osaka Evessa has attempted the most foul shots to date (257). And he's No. 3 at the charity stripe (79.8 percent).

Parting thought: Though it's been stated in past Hoop Scoop columns, it's a good time to repeat this fact: Japanese basketball fans and players would benefit from having the JBL and bj-league champions face off in some type of championship game or series after the leagues' seasons conclude. In fact, there's probably a few sponsors that would be thrilled to be associated with the first — and long overdue — showdown between the leagues.



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