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Monday, Feb. 22, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE

Golden Kings' strength in depth sinks Albirex


Staff writer

Every basketball coach with even the most rudimentary understanding of the game will tell you their team's success depends on a blend of inside scoring and capable outside shooters.

In other words, every team wants scoring options.

The Ryukyu Golden Kings, despite injuries to top players Jeff Newton (shoulder) and Shigeyuki Kinjo (knee), have plenty of options: players with the knack for stepping up to deliver victories.

Exhibit A: Guard Yosuke Sugawara scored a team-high 24 points and center George Leach added 22 in Ryukyu's 93-78 home victory on Sunday over the Niigata Albirex BB, giving coach Dai Oketani's team a weekend split in the bj-league.

Leach, an All-Star, also had 14 rebounds, four assists and two blocks to help the Golden Kings improve to a Western Conference-best 22-12. Bryan Simpson chipped in with 18 points and 10 boards and Masashi Obuchi, making his sixth appearance in a Ryukyu uniform, scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range.

Sugawara, meanwhile, remains an important option for Oketani. Without Kinjo's fiery presence on the floor until April, Sugawara has been asked to shoulder a larger load of the perimeter scoring. Case in point: He attempted 14 3-pointers on Sunday, making four of them. It wasn't his best outside-shooting effort by any stretch of the imagination, but he made up for it by draining 6 of 12 shots from 2-point range, collecting seven rebounds and dishing out five assists.

All told, this game was a reminder of Sugawara's quiet ascent to the upper echelon of the league's top Japanese players.

For Niigata (17-15), Tyrone Levett scored 17 points, Yuichi Ikeda and Uche Echefu had 14 points apiece and Antonio Burks added 12. A day after scoring 18 points, Albirex point guard Akitomo Takeno had a zero-point outing (0-for-4 from the field and no foul shots).

The Kyoto Hannaryz earned a gritty 85-78 road win over the Rizing Fukuoka, bouncing back from a loss in the series opener.

Josh Bostic paced the Hannaryz (12-18) with 25 points and eight boards. Naoto Takushi had a 19-point, six-rebound, five-assist afternoon and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf also scored 19 points. John Clifford finished with a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Kyosuke Setoyama played a pivotal role in the win, with season-high totals in rebounds (eight) and assists (six) and matching his season-best effort in steals (three).

Michael Parker led Fukuoka with 27 points, Richard Ford Jr. scored 12 and Marlyn Bryant had 11. Thiago Cordeiro and Kohei Mitomo added seven points apiece for the Rizing (20-14).

Mike Bell's 22 points and 21-point performances by Ricky Woods and Matt Lottich propelled the host Oita HeatDevils to an 89-75 triumph over the Takamatsu Five Arrows.

Bell and Woods were Oita's top rebounders (both hauled in 13 apiece), while Woods led the HeatDevils with seven assists.

Yukinori Suzuki added 12 points and Kimitake Sato chipped in with nine points and four assists for Oita (15-19).

Satoshi Takeda put a team-high 23 points on the board for the Five Arrows (10-22). Antoine Broxsie had 18 points and Yu Okada scored 17. Takamatsu guard Michael Gardener, who scored 36 points in a wild 106-97 win on Saturday, was held to six points in the series finale.

Elsewhere Sunday, Josh Peppers scored 17 points and frontcourt standouts Gyno Pomare and Chris Holm each had 14-point, 13-rebound efforts in the Sendai 89ers' 76-62 road win over the Toyama Grouses.

Toyama (12-18) has lost four consecutive games.

Kirby Lemons was the Grouses' leading scorer with 26 points. Takeshi Mito was the team's only other double-digit scorer (14 points).

Holm, known for his relentless pursuit of every rebound, exhibited his underrated passing skills on Sunday, ending the game as Sendai's top passer (four assists).

Demetrius Guions added nine points and Kenichi Takahashi and Takehiko Shimura both scored eight as the 89ers improved to 20-12.

Sendai outscored Toyama 18-6 in the pivotal third quarter.

The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix prevailed 81-77 over the host Saitama Broncos in overtime.

The Phoenix (26-6) opened OT with an 8-0 spurt to seize control of the game for good.

Saitama's Mario Jointer forced OT by nailing a shot with 39 seconds left in the fourth. That made it 67-67.

Wendell White, one of the league's premier scorers, finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds for Hamamatsu. Newcomer Dzaflo Larkai added 18 points, Jermaine Green scored 13 and corralled 12 boards. Wayne Arnold scored 11 and Shingo Okada had nine points for the Eastern Conference's top team.

Phoenix star William Knight, the league's sixth-leading scorer (22.0 points per game), missed his fifth straight game.

Jointer had a strong game for the Broncos, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Kwbana Beckles added 16 points and eight boards and Haruhito Shishito scored 14.

Saitama fell to 11-19 after losing its second game in as many days.



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