In a heated contest that featured the intensity of a playoff clash, the Chiba Jets held on for an 84-78 victory over the Alvark Tokyo on Sunday afternoon.
The Alvark never led in the series finale, a day after dropping an overtime contest against their East Division rival at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No 2.
Tokyo missed some key scoring opportunities down the stretch, including Daiki Tanaka with 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter. With the Alvark trailing 82-78, he was fouled by Chiba’s Ryumo Ono while attempting a 3-point shot, and then stepped to the line and missed all three attempts.
Tanaka is a 76.9 percent free-throw shooter (103-for-134) on the season.
After the game, Alvark coach Takumi Ito acknowledged that Tanaka is a dependable shooter at the foul line, but in the final minute his misses were surprising.
Ono was then in the offensive spotlight, sent to the line at the other end of the court. He nailed both shots with 14.5 seconds left to account for the game’s final points.
Tokyo’s next possession ended with a turnover.
Lead guard Diante Garrett had 28 points and six assists for the Alvark (38-15). Tanaka poured in 17 points, helping to engineer the Tokyo rally with eight points in the fourth quarter.
Keijuro Matsui added 11 points and Zack Baranski had 10 for the hosts, who trailed 43-30 at halftime.
Said Garrett: “I think our energy wasn’t there at the beginning, like getting some loose balls and them guys getting offensive rebounds. It’s just like they had more energy than us in the first half, and that got them the lead on us in the first half.”
Looking at the way the game played out, Ito said his team got off to a slow start in the opening half, then made small adjustments at halftime.
Tokyo still trailed 66-52 entering the fourth quarter in part because of Chiba’s strong statement on defense. The Jets had eight blocked shots in the opening 30 minutes, and would finish with eight to Tokyo’s zero for the game.
Energetic forward Michael Parker was the Jets’ defensive catalyst with a game-best four blocks. He swatted three shots in the opening quarter and had four by halftime, challenging Alvark shooters and setting the tone for his club defensively.
Along with Parker, who had a team-high 19 points, including 8-for-9 on 2-point attempts, and 12 rebounds, center Hilton Armstrong blocked two shots and Ono and Fumio Nishimura both had one.
Speaking to reporters later, Parker downplayed his performance.
“I played OK,” he said. “I have pretty high standards for myself.”
He added: “As a team, we played really well.”
The Jets got 15 points from Ono, 14 from Armstrong, nine from Tyler Stone, as well as nine from point guard Yuki Togashi, who dribbled out the clock on the game’s final possession.
Chiba coach Atsushi Ono summed up the team’s weekend sweep, winning back-to-back games by calling it a “good feeling.”
With the statistics fresh in his mind, he told reporters that the Jets’ inside strength on Sunday paid off, as evidenced by their 40 points in the paint, an improvement over Saturday’s 28.
He added that an inside-outside attack was the team’s focus.
In the series finale, that approach helped. Chiba made only 6 of 20 3s (30 percent), but converted 23 of 39 shots from inside the arc, attacking the basket repeatedly. (The Jets used their biggest run of the game, an 11-0 spurt to take a 36-30 lead in the second quarter.)
Coach Ono commended Parker for his energy and effort, noting the veteran forward had an “excellent game” and made a big impact on both ends of the floor.
Garrett buried a long 2-pointer to usher in the fourth quarter, cutting the Jets’ lead to 66-54, and a Takeki Shonaka layup moments later brought Tokyo within 66-56.
But the Jets made enough big plays to preserve their advantage. An Armstrong dunk pushed the lead back to 68-56, and they were in front 78-64 near the midway point of the final stanza.
Then the Alvark rallied late, using a 12-2 spurt to cut it to 80-76 — on a pair of Tanaka free throws — with 1:54 left.
Moments later, Togashi gave Chiba a small cushion. He was fouled driving to the basket and calmly knocked down two free throws with 1:09 left to stretch the lead back to six.
Tokyo couldn’t get closer than four the rest of the way.
When it was over, Parker flashed a smile when asked about his defensive impact and shot-blocking effort.
“Anticipation, quickness and actually a little strength (were keys), he said, “because I got stronger as I got older, so I can kind of put the person in the position I want them to be in, as opposed to reacting to what they are doing.”
SeaHorses 90, Golden Kings 87
In Okinawa City, Mikawa took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter and held on for its second win in as many days over the hosts.
Gavin Edwards, a University of Connecticut alum, sparked the SeaHorses (43-10) with 30 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. J.R. Sakuragi added 14 points and seven boards, while Okinawa native Masaya Karimata, a spitfire guard, had 13 points and six steals a day after finishing with one points and zero steals.
Mikawa had ample opportunities to pull away, but hurt its cause at the free-throw line (17-for-29).
For Ryukyu (25-28), Reyshawn Terry finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Shota Tsuyama had 14 points, including four 3s. Naoki Tashiro and Kazuya “J.” Hatano scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Levanga 63, Brex 57
In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, in a tight game with little breathing room for either club, the hosts’ 3-point shooting woes proved costly as Hokkaido recorded a bounce-back win.
The East Division-leading Brex (42-11) missed all 13 of their 3-point shots.
Daniel Miller and Asahi Tajima scored 12 points apiece for the Levanga (21-32), with Miller pulling down 10 rebounds. Jahmar Thorpe scored nine points and Jordan Bachynski had eight.
Takatoshi Furukawa led Tochigi with 15 points. Ryan Rossiter had 12 points and 12 boards, Yuta Tabuse finished with 10 points and Jeff Gibbs had nine with nine rebounds.
Lakestars 82, Hannaryz 75
In Kyoto, Narito Namizato ignited his club with 20 points and eight assists and Yosuke Sugawara poured in 14 points, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, as Shiga completed a weekend sweep.
Julian Mavunga had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Lakestars (15-38). Craig Brackins contributed seven points and 12 boards and Tomonobu Hasegawa had a nine-point outing.
Mo Charlo paced the Hannaryz (23-30) with 20 points. He was 10-for-10 at the foul line. Teammate Kevin Kotzur chipped in with 10 points and nine rebounds and Marcus Dove scored nine points, while Hayato Kawashima, Yusuke Okada and Takuya Sato all scored eight points.
NeoPhoenix 76, B-Corsairs 73
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, key contributions from several players guided San-en to its second weekend triumph over Yokohama.
Josh Childress led the NeoPhoenix (29-24) in scoring with a 17-point effort. Shuto Tawatari had the hot hand from the perimeter, making 4 of 5 3s in a 15-point outing. Robert Dozier added 11 points and 12 boards and Atsuya Ota provided 11 points and six rebounds. Tatsuya Suzuki orchestrated the offense with seven assists along with eight points.
Takuya Kawamura canned five 3s in a 24-point performance for the struggling B-Corsairs (15-38). Jeff Parmer finished with 19 points and Jason Washburn had 12.
Evessa 66, Diamond Dolphins 65
In Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, Xavier Gibson nailed the game-winning jumper with 2 seconds remaining as Osaka edged Nagoya and wrapped up a series sweep.
Before Gibson’s clutch shot, Justin Burrell had put the hosts in front 65-64 on a pair of free throws with 3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Evessa (26-27) outrebounded the Diamond Dolphins 47-29.
Osaka’s Josh Harrellson had 19 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Gibson scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Shota Konno added 11 points and Hiroyuki Kinoshita contributed eight points and five assists.
Burrell and Seiya Funyu scored 14 points apiece for Nagoya (23-30). Tenketsu Harimoto added 11 points.
Sunrockers 85, Albirex BB 73
In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Ira Brown’s 22-point, 13-rebound, six-assist performance helped carry Shibuya to its fourth straight win.
Robert Sacre scored 19 points and R.T. Guinn had 11 for the Sunrockers (28-25), who led 40-37 at halftime.
Shibuya’s Kenta Hirose contributed nine points and seven rebounds. Yuto Otsuka added eight points and point guard Leo Vendrame finished with six points, nine assists and two steals.
The Sunrockers dominated on the boards, outrebounding Niigata 43-31.
Davante Gardner scored 22 points for the Albirex (23-30). Kei Igarashi had 14 points and four assists and Clint Chapman provided 13 points and 13 rebounds. Shunki Hatakeyama dished out five assists.
Northern Happinets 79, 89ers 60
In Sendai, Akita clamped down on the hosts’ offense for the second consecutive day and secured a two-game sweep.
The 89ers were held to 48 points in the series opener.
Newcomer Leo Lyons paced Akita (17-36) with 23 points and added eight rebounds and five assists for good measure. Scott Morrison scored 11 points and hauled in eight boards, while Shigehiro Taguchi had 10 points.
Greg Mangano was Sendai’s top scorer with 22 points. Takayuki Kumagai finished with 13 points, sinking 3 of 3 from 3-point range. Tshilidzi Nephawe had eight points and 13 boards for the 89ers (13-40), Masaharu Kataoka matched Nephawe’s scoring total and Takehiko Shimura handed out seven assists.
Second-division update: Here are the results of Sunday’s games: Shimane Susanoo Magic 96, Kagoshima Rebnise 72; Aomori Wat’s 78, Fukushima Firebonds 68; Iwate Big Bulls 72, Yamagata Wyverns 63; Earthfriends Tokyo Z 91, Tokyo Excellence 81; Fighting Eagles Nagoya 82, Shinshu Brave Warriors 46; Nishinomiya Storks 79, Bambitious Nara 76; Ibaraki Robots 87, Gunma Crane Thunders 68; Hiroshima Dragonflies 75, Ehime Orange Vikings 73; and Kumamoto Volters 96, Kagawa Five Arrows 85.