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Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006

HOOP SCOOP

Three teams share early bj-league lead


The third week of the bj-league season tips off this weekend. It started with Friday night's Osaka Evessa-Takamatsu Five Arrows contest in Takamatsu.

Ed Odeven

On Saturday, Osaka (3-1) and Takamatsu (1-3) square off in their rematch at 7 p.m.

The league's other three games -- Sendai 89ers (1-3) at Toyama Grouses (2-2), Niigata Albirex (3-1) at Saitama Broncos (2-2) and Tokyo Apache (1-3) at Oita HeatDevils (3-1) -- commence at 3 p.m. and are slated for the same tipoff time on Sunday.

LAST WEEK: Here's a recap of the Week 2 games:

The Albirex recorded two wins over the visiting 89ers, beating Honoo Hamaguchi's club 96-73 on Nov. 8 and 76-70 a day later.

In the first game, the Albirex jumped out to a 30-15 lead after one quarter and led 52-30 at the break.

Niigata guard Nick Davis scored a game-high 25 points and had 10 rebounds.

News photo
Osaka Evessa forward David Palmer, who scored 13 points in the team's 71-64 victory over the Oita HeatDevils last Saturday, has helped the defending bj-league champ open the 2006-07 campaign with a 3-1 record. OSAKA EVESSA PHOTO

Teammates Makoto Hasegawa, Naoto Kosuge and Yuichi Ikeda added 12 points apiece.

The 89ers shot 3-for-16 from 3-point range in the loss, but got 23 points from center Ryan Blackwell and 22 from frontcourt mate Michael Chappell.

Sendai came out stronger in the second game, taking a 26-23 lead into the second stanza, but the Albirex was the stronger team in crunch time, outscoring the out-of-towners 29-10 in the final 10-minute period.

Forward Matt Garrison, one of four Niigata players in double figures, led the team with 19 points. Chappell poured in 28.

On Nov. 8, the host HeatDevils edged the Five Arrows 65-64. A night later, Oita won another down-to-the-buzzer contest, holding off Takamatsu 87-84.

Forward/center Andy Ellis, who had 20 points, was first in the scoring department for the HeatDevils.

He missed all six of his 3-point attempts, but was nearly automatic from inside the arc (8-for-12).

He also grabbed 13 rebounds, sharing the team lead with fellow American Mikey Marshall, who also had 13 points, five assists and three steals.

Kanagawa native Yukinori Suzuki netted 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting.

It was a poor shooting night for the Five Arrows. They converted 5 of 24 3-point shots and were 18-for-44 (40.9 percent) on 2-pointers.

Reggie Warren produced 13 points for Takamatsu.

In the rematch, Ellis was again a big factor for Oita, scoring 33 points, including 15 from the land of 3-balls, and pulled down 11 rebounds.

Marshall dished out a team-best six assists.

Center Julius Ashby, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, scored 26 and had a busy night on the glass (12 rebounds) for the Five Arrows. Teammate Isaac Sojourner scored 19 and cleared a dozen boards, too.

On Nov. 11, the Albirex-89ers rivalry returned to the hardwood for two more contests in as many days.

Niigata improved to 3-0 on the young season vs. Sendai, trouncing the 89ers 96-57.

Trailing 19-17 after the first quarter, Masaya Hirose, the Albirex coach, must have said something to fire up his players.

They outscored the opposition 79-38 the rest of the way. (Sendai's 2-for-22 effort from 3-point land didn't help either.)

Garrison had a team-high 20 points, while Jack Hartman scored 19, grabbed seven boards and made three assists and four steals.

Chappell was the lone Sendai player to score in double figures, finishing with 14.

For the 89ers, the fourth time was a charm -- or at least a win, 80-66, to be precise -- against the Albirex.

Five Sendai players scored in double figures led by Chappell (23) and Miyagi native Hikaru Kusaka (16).

Blackwell put up big numbers across the board -- 14 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, three steals and one blocked shot.

Davis' 24 points led Niigata.

The Five Arrows, one of two expansion teams this season, won their home opener 77-67 against the Tokyo Apache last Saturday.

Rasheed Sparks sparked Takamatsu with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Ashby had 15 and 13. Reggie Warren came off the bench and stayed busy, contributing seven points, eight rebounds (five offensive), two assists, two steals and a block.

Hiroyuki Kikuchi poured in 12 points, while Yu Okada had 10 for Motofumi Aoki's club.

John Humphrey scored 36 points for Tokyo.

The Apache bounced back last Sunday, downing the Five Arrows 102-91.

A spread-the-wealth mentality paid off for Joe Bryant's squad. Six players topped the double-digit mark in scoring, with Humphrey's 30 leading the way, while Jeremee McGuire had 14.

Jun Nakanishi had five of Tokyo's 15 steals.

Takamatsu's Okada did his best Reggie Miller impersonation, scoring 27, including 9-for-12 on 3-point shots, in the loss.

The expansion Toyama Grouses dropped a 77-66 contest on Nov. 11 to the visiting Saitama Broncos.

Marcus Toney El led the winning squad with 19 points. Teammate Gordon James had 12 points, 16 rebounds and swatted four shots.

The Grouses' Jerod Ward scored 28 and Takanori Goya had 14 in the loss.

In last Sunday's rematch, the Grouses earned a 75-73 triumph.

Ward, who put 21 points on the board, was again the No. 1 scorer for Toyama.

Saitama, which went 9-for-16 at the free-throw line, was led by James' 19 points.

Osaka, the reigning league champion, was victorious last Saturday, beating Oita 71-64.

Lynn Washington, who played college ball at Indiana University, scored 30 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had three assists and two blocks. Marshall had 18 points for the HeatDevils.

On Sunday, the HeatDevils returned the favor. Oita's strong fourth quarter -- it outscored Osaka 23-12 in that span -- keyed the win.

Ellis (24 points), Marshall (18) and Justin Allen (12) carried the HeatDevils on offense.

Washington was held to 17 points, which led his club.



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