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Monday, May 10, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE

Evessa clinch West; Phoenix nab 41st win


Staff writer

The Osaka Evessa defeated the Rizing Fukuoka 81-79 and wrapped up the bj-league's regular-season Western Conference title on Sunday.

Lynn Washington scored 24 points and hauled in eight rebounds and David Palmer added 23 and eight boards to lead the Evessa (34-18). Nile Murry chipped in with 13 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals for the victors.

For the Rizing (30-22), Michael Parker scored 32 points and Marlyn Bryant scored 15.

Parker won his second consecutive scoring title, finishing the season with 26.5 points per game.

Osaka will play host to the fourth-place Shiga Lakestars in the opening round of the playoffs next weekend.

The Rizing will travel to Okinawa to face the reigning champion Ryukyu Golden Kings, who improved to 33-19 after routing the host Oita HeatDevils 99-67 in their season finale, in the West's other first-round series.

Midseason pickup Masashi Obuchi paced the Golde Kings with 22 points. Five teammates scored in double figures: Yosuke Sugawara (15 points), George Leach and Kevin Steenberge (12), Jeff Newton (11) and Tsubasa Yonamine (10). Anthony McHenry had seven points and nine assists.

Oita's Mike Bell finished the season with a double-double (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Ricky Woods added 15 points. The HeatDevils, who lost 44 of 52 games last season, went 25-27 under first-year coach Brian Rowsom.

Elsewhere Sunday, William Knight and Wendell White scored 23 points apiece in the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix's 92-70 home win over the Sendai 89ers.

Hamamatsu (41-11) matched Ryukyu's record for most wins in a season, which was set in 2009-10.

Josh Peppers was Sendai's top scorer with 27 points.

The 89ers (35-17) lost six of eight games against the East's top team this season.

The Saitama Broncos, meanwhile, closed out their disappointing season with a 94-85 road win over the Niigata Albirex BB.

Mario Jointer paced Saitama (17-35) with 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Kirby Lemons added 22 points and 17 boards and Terrence Woodyard scored 14.

The Broncos will miss the playoffs for the fifth time in as many seasons.

Antonio Burks led the playoff-bound Albirex (25-27) with 20 points and Calvin Chitwood chipped in with 19.

Center Rera Rhalimi's 26-point, 24-rebound effort sparked the Kyoto Hannaryz to season-ending, 89-75 road win over the Takamatsu Five Arrows.

Kyosuke Setoyama put 16 points on the board and Sunao Murakami added 14 points for Kyoto (17-35).

Antoine Broxsie scored 28 points and Yu Okada had 21 for Takamatsu (13-39).

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League leaders: Final statistics are now in the books, and the following players finished in the top three in the categories below:

Scoring — Fukuoka's Michael Parker (26.5 points per game). Oita's Ricky Woods is the runnerup (24.1), followed by Hamamatsu's Wendell White (22.2). (Note: Takamatsu's Yu Okada averaged 19.0 ppg and is the first Japanese to finish a season in the top 10.)

Assists — Takamatsu's Michael Gardener (7.0 assists per game). Ryukyu's Anthony McHenry is No. 2 (5.0), followed by Osaka's Nile Murry (4.9). (Note: The top Japanese passer is Fukuoka's Tsuyoshi Kawazura, who averaged 4.2 apg, the fifth-best output.)

Rebounds — Shiga's Gary Hamilton (14.3 rebounds per game). Sendai's Chris Holm, last year's chairman of the boards, averaged 13.8 rpg, followed by ex-Tokyo standout Nick Davis (12.5 rpg).

Steals — Fukuoka's Michael Parker (2.9 steals per game). Takamatsu's Yu Okada is No. 2 (2.3 spg), followed by Toyama's Brandon Thomas (2.2).

Blocks — Takamatsu's Antoine Broxsie (2.9 blocks per game). Oita's Rashaad Singleton is No. 2 (2.7), followed by Tokyo's Julius Ashby (1.7) and Fukuoka's Michael Parker (1.7).

3-point percentage — Hamamatsu's Wayne Arnold (40.0 percent). The runnerup is Niigata's Antonio Burks (39.9 percent), followed by Hamamatsu's William Knight (39.5 percent. (Note: Saitama's Yuki Kitamauki finished fifth overall and tops among Japanese players at 38.5 percent.)

Free-throw percentage — Sendai's Kenichi Takahashi (88.2 percent). Tokyo's Cohey Aoki, a three-time champion, was second at 87.6, followed by Niigata's Akitomo Takeno at 85.5 percent.

Field-goal percentage — Ryukyu's Bryan Simpson (55.9 percent). The runnerup is Niigata's Paul Butorac (55.7 percent), followed by Tokyo's Julius Ashby (53.7 percent).

Dunks — Oita's Mike Bell (2.0 dunks per game). Saitama's Kirby Lemons is No. 2 (1.8 dunks per game), followed by Fukuoka's Michael Parker and Tokyo's Julius Ashby (1.4).

Minutes — Fukuoka's Michael Parker (2,080 minutes). Takamatsu's Yu Okada is the runnerup (1,897), followed by Ryukyu's Anthony McHenry (1,764).

Abdul-Rauf update: Kyoto guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf averaged 17.9 ppg this season. He played in 38 of Kyoto's 52 games, including 28 starts.

Abdul-Rauf, 41 has said he's like to return to the bj-league next season.

"I'll play as long as God gives me the ability and the strength," said Abdul-Rauf, a former All-American scoring sensation at LSU, in a March interview.

"I always say whichever goes first, if my health or desire goes (I'll retire), but right now I have my health and I'm still competitive, so as long as I have the combination of those two things I will still play, and afterwards I'll look to coach.

Abdul-Rauf, the No. 3 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, has also said he'd like to coach in Japan in the future. With three new expansion teams joining the league next season, he would be an ideal candidate to be a player-coach.

Did you know?: Kyoto had a league-worst 6-20 road record.

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Do you have a story idea about the bj-league? Send an e-mail to edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp



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