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Friday, April 24, 2009
Top scorer Parker sidelined with injury
By ED ODEVEN
Michael Parker, the bj-league's leading scorer this season, will be sidelined for two to three weeks with a right knee injury, Rizing Fukuoka coach John Neumann said.
Parker sustained the injury during the Rizing's April 18 game against the Shiga Lakestars. Teammate Marlyn Bryant mistakenly hit him under the basket on offense, Neumann said by telephone from Fukuoka on Tuesday.
Neumann said the accident occurred in the game's first half, adding that Parker was "in a lot of pain" but played in the second half.
According to Neumann, Parker said he was in too much pain to play on April 19 in the series finale.
The Rizing (21-29) dropped the rematch 97-64 after winning the series opener.
Parker had an MRI scan to determine the cause of the pain, and it is to his tendons.
The Fukuoka team doctor said Parker needs at least two weeks away from basketball, Neumann said.
"It will be trying times without him," said Neumann of the 26.8 points a game scorer who is also among the league's top 10 in rebounds, blocked shots and steals.
Indeed, the All-Star forward is one of the league's most complete players.
And now the Rizing will try to clinch a playoff spot with him out of action.
Despite holding a two-game lead over the Lakestars (19-31) in the Western Conference standings, Fukuoka knows the importance of its games this weekend against the host Takamatsu Five Arrows (32-18).
If Fukuoka loses both games and Shiga wins both, they will have identical records, but the tiebreaker would be overall point differential from the 52-game season for both squads.
Shiga faces the Ryukyu Golden Kings (39-11, 20-4 at home) this weekend in Okinawa.
The Golden Kings are 4-2 vs. the Lakestars; the Five Arrows are 4-2 vs. Fukuoka.
For the record, the Rizing's point differential to date is -3.1, while expansion club Shiga's is slightly better, -2.4.
Impressive showing: Despite playing for a team with the league's worst record, HeatDevils point guard Tsubasa Yonamine has remained a steady, efficient player. Time after time, he has displayed the knack for making the right pass at the right time. Yonamine has 243 assists and 100 turnovers.
If only the team's front office had the same consistency, signing and retaining a strong nucleus of players year after year. If it did, Yonamine would be recognized as one of the league's elite players instead of playing for a franchise that is constantly in a rebuilding mode.
James update: Five Arrows power forward Gordon James, the league's rebounding champion in the past two seasons while playing for Saitama, has missed 18 of the past 22 games while nursing a knee injury. And now he's looking ahead to postseason play.
"I'm OK, just trying to get healthy for the playoffs," James said. "I have been doing some serious rehab so I will be ready by playoffs."
James is No. 2 in rebounds this season (13.4 per game). He's averaging 17.5 ppg in 30 games.
Weekend slate: The rest of the league schedule is as follows: Sendai 89ers (29-21) vs. Niigata Albirex BB (24-26); Toyama Grouses (11-39) vs. Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix (34-16); Tokyo Apache (32-18) vs. Saitama Broncos (19-31); and Oita HeatDevils (8-42) vs. Osaka Evessa (33-17).