Japan B. League

Parks earns B. League playoff berth; Ravena, Paras sustain fine play

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Parks earns B. League playoff berth; Ravena, Paras sustain fine play

HOT STREAK. Ray Parks and Nagoya have been on a roll as of late.

Japan B. League

Ray Parks and the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins sweep Thirdy Ravena and the San-En NeoPhoenix to clinch their playoff berth in the Japan B. League

MANILA, Philippines – Ray Parks and Nagoya were not going to allow the out-of-contention San-En NeoPhoenix to derail the Diamond Dolphins’ march to the championship rounds. 

Coming off back-to-back wins over league-leaders Ryukyu Golden Kings and the Alvark Tokyo, the in-form Diamond Dolphins blasted the NeoPhoenix, 98-79, on Saturday, April 23, and ground out a close one, 89-86, against the same foes on Sunday, April 24.

Bobby Ray Parks Jr. figured prominently in Nagoya’s twin conquests of San-En.

In their blowout victory on Saturday, Parks dropped 13 points, 5 assists, 2 boards, and 1 steal in 25 minutes of play. 

Not even the return of Thirdy Ravena for San-En on Sunday could slow down the Diamond Dolphins as Parks finished with 15 points on a 4-of-5 clip from three and dished out 5 assists to help Nagoya become the No. 7 squad to qualify for the playoffs.

The last time the Diamond Dolphins made the playoffs was in the 2018-19 season. 

After missing six straight games, Thirdy returned to active duty and came off the bench to contribute 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists for the NeoPhoenix, who fell to 10-42.

Dwight Ramos and the Toyama Grouses also emerged from the weekend with a clean slate after sweeping the Kyoto Hannaryz.

The Grouses had to go through five extra minutes on Saturday before edging Kyoto in overtime, 84-81. Ramos put up just 6 points but scored the first basket for Toyama in overtime to get his team going. He also handed out 3 assists.

Ramos put up an encore on Sunday by replicating his previous day’s stat line of 6 points and 3 assists as the Grouses repeated over Kyoto, 85-80. The two wins boosted Toyama’s record to 22-32.

Over in Kusatsu City, Kiefer Ravena and the Shiga Lakestars figured in a thriller weekend with the visiting Hiroshima Dragonflies.

The Lakestars were on the cusp of victory on Saturday as they had possession off a rebound with less than six seconds in a tied ballgame. Import Sean O’Mara’s pass, however, was intercepted by Hiroshima’s Nick Mayo, who was subsequently fouled by Ravena with 0.5 seconds left to play. Mayo made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second as the Lakestars watched the Dragonflies steal the game, 96-97.

Kiefer’s splendid game of 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists went to waste as Shiga suffered its 36th loss in 49 games.

“The Phenom” and company avoided another meltdown on Sunday as they got back at Hiroshima in another down-the-wire finish, 82-80. Ravena once again had an outstanding performance with 16 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals.

Ravena has scored in double digits in his last nine games, averaging 15 points and 5.8 assists. 

Meanwhile, Kobe Paras and the Niigata Albirex finally returned to the court again since playing their last game last April 6.

The Albirex proved to be no match for the playoff-bound Kawasaki Brave Thunder. Niigata found itself on the receiving end of two horrible beatings, losing on Saturday by 25 points, 71-96, and by 40 points on Sunday, 70-110. 

Paras, though, remained one of the few bright spots for the Albirex. He had 11 points built on 3 triples on Saturday and followed it up with a 10-point output on Sunday.

Paras has displayed a resurgence for Niigata, which languishes at last place in the standings in the entire B. League. He has scored in double figures in 8 of his last 12 games.

In Hokkaido, Javi Gomez de Liaño had the most productive weekend of his B. League career even as his team, the Ibaraki Robots, lost both of its games to host Levanga Hokkaido.

Gomez de Liaño scored 7 of his 11 points in the final four minutes, but the Robots were unable to overcome their huge deficit early and fell on Saturday to Levanga, 68-80.

The former UP Maroon and Gilas standout played even better on Sunday as he went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc to finish with 17 points. He also had 5 boards and 3 assists. Ibaraki kept the score closer but still dropped to its 34th loss in 48 games, 77-84. – Rappler.com

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