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Monday, Dec. 26, 2011

Phoenix pile more woe on struggling Broncos

Staff writer

TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Pref. — The proof is in the record book, so go ahead and look it up.

The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix know how to win basketball games. Good shooting and smart, aggressive defense get the job done for the two-time defending bj-league champions.

The Saitama Broncos, on the other hand, have a long way to go to reach that level. Saitama dropped its fifth straight game on Sunday, falling 87-70 to the Phoenix before a lively crowd at Tokorozawa Municipal Gymnasium.

Hamamatsu, which led by three points after one quarter, turned the game into a rout by outclassing the hosts in all facets in the second and third quarters, especially in the scoring department. The Eastern Conference-leading Phoenix (14-8) outscored the hosts 46-27 in the middle two quarters, including 25-9 in the second stanza to take a 50-31 edge into the locker room at halftime.

The Phoenix shot 18-for-36 from 2-point range and ran their offense like a smooth Ferrari coasting down a curvy mountain road to post another win over the Broncos. Jermaine Dixon orchestrated the offense with 18 points and seven assists, while Herve Lamizana continues to play at a high level since joining the club in November, with 18 points, nine rebounds and two steals in 18-plus minutes. Ex-Tokyo and Shimane forward Shoji Nakanishi scored 12 points and buried four 3-pointers. Gyno Pomare added 10 points. Reigning regular-season and Final Four MVP Jeffrey Parmer made three of Hamamatsu's 12 steals.

In the fourth quarter, Hamamatsu's scrappy, hustling play kept Saitama from mounting a serious comeback.

First-year Phoenix coach Ryuji Kawai commended his players' effort after the game. The key, he said, was "we played 40 minutes of basketball, gave 40 minutes of (good) effort."

Not shy to dish out praise to his players, Kawai didn't just speak about the team's well-known stars — Parmer, Wayne Arnold or Dixon. He spoke about the productive play of Nakanishi, Japan national team center Atsuya Ota and spitfire guard Yuki Yamaguchi (four points, four assists in 11:48). "These guys are stepping up their play," Kawai added.

Saitama (6-14), stuck in ninth place in the 10-team East, will look to regain its form against the host Iwate Big Bulls on Wednesday and Thursday.

Kenny Satterfield paced the Broncos with 18 points and five assists. Jayme Miller and Daiki Terashita each scored 15 and Yuki Kitamuki had 10. Two-time scoring champion John "Helicopter" Humphrey was held to seven points on 2-for-11 shooting. Newcomer Nashid Beard grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds in his second game in a Broncos uniform.

Saitama had 21 turnovers in the series finale. In the two-game series, the Broncos shot 45-for-130 from the field, including 12-for-48 from 3-point range. Sunday's output was 23-for-67 overall and 7-for-27 from beyond the arc, and there were scattered boos after the game ended.

"Hamamatsu did a very good job shooting the ball at a high percentage, 50 percent on 2s and 37.5 percent on 3s, so it's always going to be a challenge when a team like that is shooting very well," Broncos coach Natalie Nakase said.

The Broncos saw the game vanish from their reach early in the second quarter. Arnold and Nakanishi opened the quarter by hitting back-to-back 3s to make it 31-22, and the rout was on. In the game-changing second quarter, Hamamatsu was 5-for-7 from 3-point range.

During Saitama's losing streak, Nakase said the team is working to make improvements.

"We're waiting to get healthy, everybody healthy," she said. "We understand that we've been out without a few posts (frontcourt players), so I think as a team we've done a great job covering for each other in the post. Obviously, we've adjusted our defense. But we do understand at the same time that once we are all healthy we really feel we are going to be really effective."

After the loss, Nakase said the team's defensive rotations are something her players will work on in the coming weeks. "We tried to change during the game, something different, and we probably weren't prepared so much for the rotation," she admitted. "So yeah . . . that's something we can focus on. Be more aggressive in general. When we are allowed to play real, real aggressive, we have to make sure that we match that intensity."

Hannaryz 80, Northern Happinets 76 (OT)

In Kyoto, the Hannaryz outlasted Akita in overtime to stretch their winning streak to a franchise-best 12 games.

Rick Rickert and Sunao Murakami both scored 14 points for Kyoto (15-5). Taizo Kawabe scored 10 points and Jermaine Boyette had nine. Former NBA center Lance Allred, the author of two basketball books, had eight points and 11 rebounds. The Hannaryz haven't lost a game since Nov. 6.

Ricky Woods and E.J. Drayton led the Northern Happinets (13-9) with 16 points apiece, Ryosuke Mizumachi scored 14 and Kazuhiro Shoji had 11. Curtis Terry, NBA guard Jason Terry's half-brother, was 1-for-11 from 3-point range in the loss, finishing with nine points.

Evessa 61, 89ers 55

In Osaka, veteran guard Satoshi Takeda sank 3 of 4 3-points shots and scored 17 points as the Evessa completed a series sweep.

Lynn Washington, back in the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul, contributed 15 points and 12 boards for Osaka (15-5). Cohey Aoki added eight points and Lawrence Blackledge blocked four shots as the Evessa's defense kept Sendai below 60 points for the second straight game.

Johnny Dukes had 23 points and 16 rebounds for the 89ers (11-11) and Takehiko Shimura scored 16 points.

The 89ers shot 3-for-24 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"At least we were close both days, with a chance to win at the buzzer yesterday, and chance to tie it with about 1:09 left today," Sendai coach Bob Pierce said. "Still, all that's left is the pain of losing."

Rizing 93, Susanoo Magic 88

In Fukuoka, Carlos Dixon scored 32 points, Akitomo Takeno added 14 and the hosts earned a series sweep.

Kevin Palmer and Jermaine Dearman each had 13 points for Fukuoka (15-7).

Michael Parker led Shimane (12-10) with 24 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. Reggie Golson had 20 points, B.J. Puckett chipped in with 14 and Tatsuhiro Yokoo had 10.

B-Corsairs 78, Brave Warriors 76

In Okaya, Nagano Prefecture, Justin Burrell paced Yokohama with 22 points as coach Reggie Geary's squad edged the hosts and recorded a series sweep.

Captain Masayuki Kabaya scored 16 points and Pape Mour Faye added 10 points and nine boards for the B-Corsairs (9-11).

Derek Raivio was Shinshu's top scorer with 24 points, Lee Roberts had 19 points and 20 rebounds and Edward Morris and Takanori Goya each had 10 points.

The Brave Warriors fell to 9-13.

Golden Kings 87, HeatDevils 63

In Kitsuki, Oita Prefecture, Naoto Kosuge had a 20-point outing, Anthony McHenry scored 19 and Ryukyu improved to 12-2 on the road.

David Palmer scored 17 points for the Western Conference-leading Golden Kings (17-5) and Narito Namizato dished out eight assists.

For Oita, T.J. Cummings scored 22 points and Zach Atkinson posted a double-double (15 points, 20 boards). Kohei Mitomo and Naoto Takushi finished with 11 points apiece for the HeatDevils (4-18).

Shining Suns 103, Five Arrows 66

In Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, Dexter Lyons had a 29-point performance and Tsubasa Yonezawa scored 18 points after a season-high 16 in the series opener a day earlier as the hosts bounced back from a loss.

Miyazaki improved to 10-12.

Paul Butorac led Takamatsu (1-21) with 19 points.

Lakestars 89, Big Bulls 74

In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, balanced scoring carried the hosts past Iwate.

Shiga's Ray Nixon had a team-high 19 points, followed by Josh Peppers' 18, Dionisio Gomez's 17 and Shinya Ogawa's 11. The Lakestars (15-7) lost the opener on Saturday.

Thomas Kennedy paced the Big Bulls (6-16) with 18 points. Yoshiaki Yamamoto scored 14 and Hayato Kantake had 12.

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