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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Strong second half helps Evessa top Rizing in opener

Staff writer

OSAKA — The Osaka Evessa did what they do best on Saturday: Win when the stakes are high.

News photo
Putting in work: Lynn Washington scored a team-best 26 points in the Evessa's 79-66 win over Fukuoka on Saturday. OSAKA EVESSA/BJ LEAGUE

The Evessa led for the entire second half against the Rizing Fukuoka, recording a 79-66 victory in Game 1 of the bj-league's Western Conference semifinals at Sumiyoshi Sports Center.

"It was a hard-fought game," Evessa star Lynn Washington said after scoring a team-best 26 points with 11 rebounds. "But we have to come out here and do it again tomorrow."

The Rizing now face a must-win in Game 2 to force a possible tiebreaker mini-game, which would occur after the regularly scheduled game. The winner advances to the Final Four against either the Ryukyu Golden Kings or Shiga Lakestars.

Billy Knight added 17 points for Osaka and newcomer Tseng Wen-ting scored 10, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots coming off the bench. Kenny Satterfield also entered the game as a reserve and made a big impact, finishing with nine points, eight rebounds and five four assists and two steals in directing the offense.

Knight called the 202-cm Tseng the team's "X-factor." Knight said when Tseng enters the game he adds another big body to the lineup, noting that the Taiwanese veteran's shot-blocking ability and clogging the lane on defense helped disrupt Fukuoka's high-octane offense all night, especially with Wayne Marshall fouling out in the second half.

The Rizing shot 2-for-17 on 3-pointers, the same number the Evessa shot, but the visitors also made only 22 of 58 shots from inside the 3-point arc.

"It was a good game," Evessa coach Ryan Blackwell said.

Blackwell said his team got good looks and moved the ball well on the perimeter. "Hopefully tomorrow more shots will fall for us."

Michael Parker paced the Rizing with 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting, but never carried the offense during a long, game-changing spurt, with 13 rebounds and three steals. Jun Nakanishi, a former Evessa player, added 14 points. The rest of the Fukuoka squad had 22 points.

In the opening quarter, Nakanishi nailed two 3-pointers in the early going. Parker sprung loose for a thunderous jam and Takeno found space to operate in traffic, weaving past Osaka defenders for a pair of baskets to give the Rizing a 14-8 lead with 3:44 left in the first quarter.

Satterfield nailed a floater to initiate Osaka's rally, as they cut it to 20-16 after one quarter.

Washington scored the first points of the second quarter, converting an inside shot and scored again seconds later to tie it at 20-20.

Satterfield then drove to the hoop and scored, as shouts of "Ken-ny!" reverberated through the gym.

Shota Konno had six second-quarter points, helping the Evessa pull ahead 34-24 late in the quarter and take a 34-28 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

Washington had a team-high 12 points at intermission, while Parker led the Rizing with 14.

Fukuoka's shooting went cold in the second stanza, as the team was 4-for-20 from the field with only eight points in the quarter.

Rizing coach Tadaharu Ogawa said his team needs to do a better job on Sunday distributing the basketball, admitting it was poor in the series opener.

"In the second quarter, we got flat," he said, referring to his team being outscored 18-8.

Washington closed out the win with a jam in the final seconds, and the Rizing, who finished third in the West, one spot behind Osaka, never got closer than seven in the fourth quarter.

It's time to turn the page, though, Ogawa said, repeating his message to his team.

"In tomorrow's game, we have a good challenge for our team," Ogawa said.

Phoenix cruise past Grouses

Wayne Arnold scored 21 points and Ray Nixon added 11 points and 13 rebounds as the defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix's 71-52 victory over the Toyama Grouses in Game 1 of the bj-league's Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.

Jeffrey Parmer, the regular-season MVP scored 12 points with eight boards and Masahiro Oguchi added eight points for the Phoenix.

For Toyama, Haakim Johnson scored 21 and Takeshi Mito had 10.

Albirex BB 75, Happinets 72

In Toyano, Niigata Prefecture, George Leach led the hosts with 19 points in the series opener and three-time All-Star big man Julius Ashby added 16 in the other East series.

For Akita, Sek Henry scored 14, Paul Butorac had 13 and three others scored 10 in the first playoff game in the expansion team's history.

Golden Kings 95 Lakestars 79

In Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, David Palmer had 28 points and Carlos Dixon poured in 23 as Ryukyu won the West series opener.

Anthony McHenry added 14 points and Naoto Kosuge had 13 for the Kings.

Mikey Marshall paced Shiga with 18 points and 14 boards and Gary Hamilton had a double-double (11 points, 15 rebonds), while Josh Peppers scored 15. Masashi Joho and Yu Okada each scored nine.

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