Juan Gomez de Liaño had a 22nd birthday to remember on Friday, November 19, as the Earthfriends Tokyo Z ended a 13-game losing start in the Japan B. League Division 2 off a convincing 98-65 home rout of the Ehime Orange Vikings.
The high-upside Filipino import fed the hot hands early on as he finished with 7 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 steal in 25 minutes to help the Earthfriends end a near-two month winless streak.
Tokyo looked great from the get-go as it rode a 12-2 start all the way to a 29-12 opening quarter salvo and never looked back from there.
Seeing as how no lead is completely safe in the B. League, the Earthfriends never let their foot off the gas on both ends of the floor and carried a comfortable 25-point lead, 73-48, entering the final frame.
It was still all Earthfriends in the last ten minutes of regulation, as Gomez de Liaño turned a defensive stop to an easy fastbreak layup for the 31-point gap, 85-54, with just 6:04 left.
Pat Andree then made his last two free throws with 16 ticks left to set the biggest lead, and the final score, 98-65.
Tokyo import Joshua Crawford led the second-half scoring barrage and finished with a game-high 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting to go with 13 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.
Fellow reinforcement Marc Norelia, meanwhile, flashed his all-around skills with a 24-marker, 15-board, 10-dime triple-double with 4 steals to boot.
On the losing end, Andrew Fitzgerald led the way with 23 points off the bench, while former PBA import Eugene Phelps, Ehime’s leading scorer and rebounder, was limited to just a 10-marker, 10-board double-double on 4-of-11 shooting.
Just like how Tokyo is still at the cellar of the East District, Ehime likewise remained rooted at the bottom of the West with a 3-11 record.
The Earthfriends now aim to start a much-needed winning streak in the Vikings rematch at 2 pm on Saturday, November 20 (Manila time).
Tokyo 98 – Crawford 29, Norelia 24, Masuko 18, Andree 9, Gomez de Liaño 7, Takagi 5, Kurihara 3, Burton 3, Sakai 0, Hisaoka 0, Yamanouchi 0.
Ehime 65 – Fitzgerald 23, Sakata 12, Phelps 10, Kriener 7, Toshino, T. 4, Sakai 4, Toshino, Y. 3, Yamamoto 2, Yahata 0, Ishii 0.
Quarters: 29-12, 54-27, 73-48, 98-65.