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Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE

Albirex rally past Rizing


Staff writer

When a star is sidelined with an injury, other players are challenged to take on bigger roles until the hurt player returns to the rotation.

The Niigata Albirex BB, missing center Paul Butorac for a month due to a finger injury, relied on the contributions of numerous players in their 92-84 home win over the Rizing Fukuoka on Saturday.

The quality matchup pitted the bj-league's No. 3 Eastern Conference team (Niigata) vs. the Western Conference's No. 2 team (Fukuoka).

Calvin Chitwood paced the Albirex with 23 points and hauled in 11 rebounds, Tyrone Levett scored 21, Uche Echefu had an 18-point, 12-board performance, Antonio Burks scored 12 and Yuichi Ikeda had 10 points. Point guard Takato Saito had a season-high seven assists and two steals in 25 minutes off the bench.

Niigata (15-14) trailed 64-62 after three quarters. Chitwood's basket tied it 68-68 with 8:03 to play in the fourth. The Albirex were the stronger team down the stretched and earned the victory.

Michael Parker led the Rizing (19-12) with 32 points and 13 boards and Richard Ford Jr. scored 17 and grabbed 11 boards. Kohei Mitomo added 13 points in the loss.

Chalk it up as a valuable experience for Niigata as it strives to remain a strong contender in the East. Butorac is expected to return to the lineup in early March.

Gary Hamilton had 24 points and 18 rebounds and Bobby Nash scored 20 to ignite the Shiga Lakestars to a 102-87 home win over the Oita HeatDevils.

Shiga (16-17) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Chris Schlatter and Ray Schafer added 14 points apiece for the Lakestars, Masashi Joho scored 11 and Takamichi Fujiwara had seven points and dished out six assists in the well-rounded victory.

Mike Bell paced the HeatDevils (13-17) with 30 points, Matt Lottich added 25 points and five assists and Ricky Woods contributed 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. The rest of the team scored 13 total points.

Wendell White scored a game-high 38 points in the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix's 89-72 win over the visiting Toyama Grouses.

Wayne Arnold poured in 21 points, Jermaine Green had 12 points and 11 boards and Masahiro Oguchi scored eight and handed out four assists for the Phoenix (23-6). White also grabbed seven rebounds and supplied six assists to his grateful teammates.

For the Grouses (12-15), Kirby Lemons posted team highs in points (24) and rebounds (15). Takeshi Mito added 16 points and Jason Arbet had 11. Makoto Kato, coming off 24 and 20-point games last weekend, was held to seven.

The Osaka Evessa climbed back over .500 with a 79-65 home win over the Saitama Broncos.

Lynn Washington and Ryan Blackwell finished with 19 points apiece for the victors.

Former University of Texas center Jason Klotz, making his bj-league debut, had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Evessa (15-14), while Shota Konno had a 10-point outing.

Taishiro Shimizu, who scored 17 points, was Saitama's lone double-digit scorer.

The Broncos slipped to 11-16.

The Ryukyu Golden Kings defeated the host Sendai 89ers 68-48, holding the hosts to eight points in the first quarter and seven in the third.

Anthony McHenry paced the Golden Kings (21-10) with 20 points, George Leach added 18 points and 17 rebounds, Kevin Steenberge had eight points, 11 boards and three steals and guard Masashi Obuchi, in his third game for Ryukyu, provided seven points.

The 89ers' Josh Peppers was the team's top scorer (15 points) and Demetrius Guions had a 10-point game.

Sendai, which shot 2-for-21 from 3-point range, fell to 17-12. The Takamatsu Five Arrows, meanwhile, had six double-digit scorers in a 105-89 home triumph over the Tokyo Apache.

The Five Arrows (9-21) lost the series opener on Friday.

Michael Gardener and Satoshi Takeda scored 22 apiece, Waki Williams had 18 and Yu Okada chipped in with 17, while Terrance Farley and Antoine Broxsie had 13 apiece.

For Tokyo (9-19), Cohey Aoki was the leading scorer (24 points, including 11-for-12 at the free-throw line). Julius Ashby finished with 16 points and 13 boards, Michael Chappell scored 11 and Takanori Goya had 10.



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