The Toyama Grouses avoided a Christmas Day meltdown in the Japan B. League as they turned back a spirited Gunma Crane Thunders comeback in an 89-77 home win on Saturday, December 25.
Filipino star prospect Dwight Ramos continued his all-around showing, albeit in a more subdued way, and finished with 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals in 22 minutes.
The Grouses’ rise to an 8-14 record already looked feasible as they peaked with a 17-point lead, 44-27, with 32 seconds left in the first half.
Gunma, however, refused to back down and responded with a huge 23-4 run bridging the two halves for the sudden 50-48 lead with 6:11 left in the third quarter.
Realizing what just happened, Toyama woke up from its stupor and seized a double-digit lead right back with a 16-3 blitz to enter the final frame up 12, 67-55.
Although the Thunders mounted a last-ditch effort to get within 6 points, 71-77, with 4:31 left in regulation, that was as near as they could get before the Grouses pulled away for good with a 6-0 spurt, capped by a Julian Mavunga dagger trey, 83-71, at the 2:31 mark.
Mavunga, a known triple-double threat, powered Toyama in the win with a 15-point, 10-assist, 7-rebound line, while Japanese-American Aki Chambers paced the loss with 18 markers, 5 dimes, and 4 boards.
The Grouses can start a much-needed winning streak with a weekend sweep in the rematch on Sunday, December 26, at 1:05 pm (Manila time).
Meanwhile, the same positive vibes were not felt over at the B. League Division 2 as the Aomori Wat’s fell to a pitiful 2-22 record off a 40-64 rout loss against the visiting Kagawa Five Arrows.
Gilas Pilipinas project big man Kemark Carino continued his string of quiet outings, and finished with just 2 rebounds and no other stats in 12 minutes. He will have his next shot to make a bigger impact in the Sunday rematch at 1 pm.
Juan Gomez de Liano likewise continued to be a non-factor for the 5-19 Earthfriends Tokyo Z as he sat out their 80-92 home loss to the Saga Ballooners still likely due to health protocols.
Whether or not he returns for the Sunday, 2 pm rematch remains to be seen. – Rappler.com