MANILA, Philippines – The San-En NeoPhoenix got back to their winning ways in the Japan B. League after turning back the Shiga Lakestars at home, 93-80, on Sunday, February 27.
Playing without import Thirdy Ravena, the NeoPhoenix snapped a nine-game losing streak with the upset win and rose to a 5-28 record. Meanwhile, the Lakestars failed to sweep the weekend and dropped to 10-18.
Despite the loss, Thirdy’s brother Kiefer led all scorers with a B. League career-high-tying 28 points, 13 in the fourth quarter alone, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals on 10-of-15 shooting, and 5-of-7 from three.
However, the elder Ravena’s late eruption came a little too late for Shiga as San-En established control in the third period with a 13-1 start to turn a 44-38 halftime lead to 57-39 by the 6:39 mark.
Unlike past games, the NeoPhoenix kept their fire burning all throughout the second half as they peaked with a 24-point gap, 81-57, off an Elias Harris jumper with 6:43 left in the final frame.
Not even Ravena’s late offensive frenzy saved the Lakestars from that big of a deficit, and they only got as close as 10 points, 80-90, off one last desperation triple from their Asian import in the final minute.
Harris led the rare win with 26 points and 10 rebounds on 10-of-16 shooting while 37-year-old local center Atsuya Ota came out of nowhere to help with a season-high 10 markers in just as many minutes off the bench.
Sean O’mara backstopped Ravena in the loss with a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Novar Gadson added 15 markers, and 9 boards on a 6-of-14 clip.
Ravena and Shiga will return on Wednesday, March 2, in a game against a Toyama Grouses side possibly still missing import Dwight Ramos, who will only end his Gilas Pilipinas stint this Sunday night.
Meanwhile, San-En will gun for an even bigger upset on Saturday, March 5, as they take on perennial contender Alvark Tokyo.
San-En 93 – Harris 26, Carter 14, Tsuya 12, Tawatari 10, Ota 10, Sugiura 8, Hanzawa 5, Matsuwaki 4, Okada 2, Tsuyama 2, Tsuneta 0, Yamauchi 0.
Shiga 80 – Ravena 28, O’mara 19, Gadson 15, Kashiwagura 5, Moriyama 5, Hayashi 3, Imagawa 3, Nomoto 1, Hoshino 1, Shibuta 0, Ozawa 0.
Quarters: 23-23, 44-38, 68-51, 93-80.