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Monday, May 23, 2011

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Top dog: Final Four MVP Jeffrey Parmer dishes the ball off during the bj-league final at Ariake Colosseum on Sunday. YOSHIAKI MIURA

MVP Parmer revels in first success


Staff writer

Don't blame Jeffrey Parmer for appearing ecstatic after Sunday's bj-league championship game.

After all, he had picked up the Final Four MVP award, helped his team repeat as the champion and collected the regular-season MVP award. All in all, the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix do-it-all forward had a storybook season.

"It's a wonderful experience," Parmer said after being named the Final Four MVP. "It's my first career championship. . . . I don't know what to say, man."

The Florida Atlantic University product had 23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists against the Niigata Albirex BB on Saturday, followed by a 19-point, 12-rebound, four-assist, one-steal effort in the title game against the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Ryukyu star Jeff Newton was the first player in league history to win the regular season and playoff MVP awards in 2008-09, when the league opted to give separate awards for the first time.

"It was a hard-fought game," Parmer added. "I've got to give a lot of credit to Okinawa. They played us really tough in the second half. We were up by eight points at the half and they really stuck with us throughout the third quarter to keep it close . . . and at the end of the game it just came down to a free-throw contest really and we hit free throws to win the game."

Mental toughness played a factor in Parmer's big performance.

"I just tried to keep fighting," the Niagara Falls, New York, product said. "Every play is not going to go your way, so you are going to have to go to the next play and keep playing . . . so I just wanted to leave everything out there on the court."

Parmer began playing basketball in middle school, and never won a title in high school or college, so he expressed excitement over the first team title of his career

Ryukyu coach Dai Oketani, who has been in the bj-league since 2005, when he served as an assistant coach for the Oita HeatDevils before taking over as the team's head coach and then moving on to Okinawa, described Parmer as a very competitive player.

"He wants to get better and better every practice," Oketani said of Parmer.

Parmer's play, the Golden Kings bench boss said, fits in well with the Hamamatsu trademark: on-court intensity.

"They play with 40 minutes of high intensity, team intensity," Oketani said.

Ryukyu standout David Palmer has only faced Parmer in the 2010-11 season, but he's had enough time to develop an opinion of the talented 203-cm forward, who averaged 16.5 point, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals in the regular season.

Versatility is Parmer's strength, according to Palmer, saying he's strong enough to battle the big men in the paint and skilled enough to make quality shots from the perimeter on a consistent basis.

"They have so many good shooters," Palmer said of the Phoenix, including Parmer, "that you are constantly scrambling out or closing out on guys, and that gives them an opportunity to break you down."

Throughout the season, Parmer's one-on-one skills and ability to make his teammates better were complementary traits, and that causes plenty of frustration for opponents.

He now goes in the history books as the second dual regular-season/playoff MVP. Elite company, indeed.

Just ask Newton, whose 50-point outburst in the Western Conference final against the Osaka Evessa in May 2009 remains the single greatest individual achievement in league history.



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