MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto had another quiet offensive outing but found other ways to contribute and help the visiting Hiroshima Dragonflies pull off an 81-70 victory over the Toyama Grouses in the Japan B. League on Saturday, March 25, at the Kurobe City Sports Center.
Sotto – who failed to score in double digits for the first time in a loss last Wednesday – missed all his attempts in the second half and finished with just 4 points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field.
But the 7-foot-3 Filipino did haul 9 boards and played the role of facilitator with 6 assists. He also had 2 blocks and a steal in nearly 24 minutes of play.
Sotto was plagued with foul trouble in the first half and played less than nine minutes as he struggled with the heft of Toyama’s 6-foot-10 center Josh Smith, a former TNT import in the PBA.
Hiroshima held a slim 36-34 halftime lead against a Grouses squad that sits second to the last in the Central Division and third to last in the league.
But the Dragonflies shifted to a higher gear after the break as they connected on four straight triples, three coming from Nick Mayo to zoom to an 11-point lead which Hiroshima never relinquished.
Brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, meanwhile, figured in contrasting games.
At the Shiga Daihatsu Arena, Kiefer was at his Phenom clutch best as he delivered in the endgame to help the Shiga Lakes escape with a 93-87 triumph over the Sunrockers Shibuya.
After a jumper by Shibuya’s Ryan Kelly had Shiga staring at an 84-87 deficit with 1:27 left in the game, Kiefer took matters into his own hands by fishing a foul and converting two free throws to narrow the deficit to just a solitary point.
Shiga then clamped down on defense in the next possession and forced Sunrockers’ Kazuma Tsuya to miss a stepback desperation three just before the shot clock expired.
Kiefer then connected on a three-pointer of his own with 33 seconds left to give the Lakes an 89-87 lead.
A slam and a jumper by Kelvin Martin extended Shiga’s lead to six and earned for the Lakes just their first back-to-back wins since early October.
Over at the Nikkan Arena Tochigi Main Arena, Thirdy sustained his splendid play but still could not prevent a fifth straight loss for the San-En NeoPhoenix, who fell to the home team Utsunomiya Brex, 80-68.
Thirdy has been on a tear even as the NeoPhoenix has been on a slide with a string of losses. He has been norming 12.25 points, 7.75 rebounds, and 6.25 assists in the last four games.
Against Utsunomiya, Thirdy paced San-en with 21 points on a 70% shooting clip. He also had 5 rebounds for NeoPhoenix, which unfortunately fell to their fifth straight defeat.
Alvark Tokyo def. Levanga Hokkaido, 88-65 (Dwight Ramos – 12 points, 4-of-9 field goals, 2 rebounds, 24:02 minutes)
Shimane Susanoo Magic def. Kyoto Hannaryz, 87-75 (Matthew Wright – 18points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 36:02 minutes; Matthew Aquino – DNP)
Ryukyu Golden Kings def. Sendai 89ers, 75-73 (Carl Tamayo – 0 points, 2:49 minutes)
Bambitious Nara def. Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka, 65-63 (Greg Slaughter – 3 points, 1 rebound, 8:19 minutes)
Nagasaki Velca def. Kagawa Five Arrows, 81-51 (Jordan Heading – 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 16:32 minutes; Roosevelt Adams – DNP)
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