Japan B. League

Kobe Paras struggles as Niigata collapses vs Gunma

Martin Mendoza
Kobe Paras struggles as Niigata collapses vs Gunma

TOUGH NIGHT. Kobe Paras and the Niigata Albirex slide back to a losing streak.


Kobe Paras scores just 7 points as the Niigata Albirex BB fall to their second straight loss in the Japan B. League

MANILA, Philippines – After notching back-to-back wins in the Japan B. League last weekend, Kobe Paras and the Niigata Albirex BB once again find themselves in a two-game losing streak as they fell to the Gunma Crane Thunders, 83-64, on Saturday, February 5.

For the second game in a row, Paras struggled offensively for the Albirex BB, finishing with just 7 points on 3-of-10 shooting, together with 1 rebound, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

With the loss, Niigata remained at the bottom of the Division 1 standings with a 4-29 record.

Trailing by just 2 points, 43-45, midway through the third period, Niigata failed to keep in step with Gunma as the latter suddenly unleashed a blitzing 17-3 run to extend its lead to double-digits, 62-46, at the end of the quarter.

Niigata never regained its footing in the final frame as Gunma even went on to stretch its advantage to as many as 22 points, 74-52, with only 5 minutes left to play.

Five players finished in double figures for Gunma, but it was Ondrej Balvin who led the way with 18 points, to go along with 11 rebounds.

Rosco Allen, meanwhile, paced Niigata with his own double-double of 25 markers and 13 boards.

Paras and the Albirex BB will look to avoid a familiar three-game losing streak when they clash once again with the Crane Thunders on Sunday, February 6, at 2:05 pm, Manila time. 

In another Division 1 match, the Dwight Ramos-less Toyama Grouses took down Javi Gomez de Liaño and the Ibaraki Robots, 96-88.

Despite the absence of Ramos, who arrived in the Philippines on Friday, February 4, to join Gilas Pilipinas for the upcoming window of the FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers, the Grouses managed to fend off a late fourth-quarter rally by the Robots to improve their record to 14-20.

With Toyama already up by 9 points, 86-77, with 2:42 left in the game, Ibaraki went on a 9-3 run to trail by just 3 markers, 86-89, with 52 seconds remaining.

Luckily for the Grouses, big man Joshua Smith, who was red-hot the whole game, sealed the victory in the following possession with a crucial and-one play. 

The former TNT import Smith erupted for 29 points on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting, while Brice Johnson and Keijuro Matsui added 22 and 20 points, respectively.

On the other side, Marc Trasolini topscored for Ibaraki with 20 points, while Eric Jacobsen chipped in 19 markers.

Gomez de Liaño, meanwhile, finally returned to Ibaraki’s active lineup after missing several games due to an ankle injury, but failed to put up any numbers in his very limited playing time of 1 minute and 14 seconds.

The Robots, who fell to 6-26 in the standings, will look to even the weekend series against the Grouses when they collide once more on Sunday at 1:05 pm, Manila time.

Also in Division 1, Matthew Aquino and the Shinshu Brave Warriors breezed past the Kyoto Hannaryz, 82-58.

The Filipino-Japanese big man Aquino tallied 3 points, 1 rebound, and 1 block in just 2 minutes and 32 seconds of action for Shinshu, which captured its third straight win and improved its record to 15-17.

The Brave Warriors will look to complete the weekend sweep of the Hannaryz on Sunday, also at 2:05 pm, Manila time. – Rappler.com