The nightmarish skid continued for the Niigata Albirex BB in the Japan B. League as the defending champion Chiba Jets mounted a 25-6 third quarter rally to complete an 88-83 comeback win at home on Sunday, November 14.
Yet another heartbreaker, the loss marked Niigata’s sixth defeat in their 11-game skid decided by five points or less. The Albirex have now settled with a 2-12 record at the East District cellar while the Jets kept their place near the top at 10-4.
Niigata, however, found a silver lining in the loss as Filipino import Kobe Paras finally broke his shooting slump with an efficient 15-point outing on a 6-of-8 clip, his first B. League game above 50% field goal shooting.
But that tidbit of good news could not erase the fact that the Albirex blew a 12-point third-quarter lead as the Jets soared with their massive run to enter the final frame up seven, 67-60.
Although Niigata fought in the clutch, and tied the game at the 2:14 mark, 81-all, the breaks of the game again slipped from the Albirex’s grasp as a late Gavin Edwards block resulted in a wide-open Chris Smith triple for the 86-81 Chiba lead with just 52 ticks left.
From there, the defending champs simply played the clock to their favor as two Yuki Togashi free throws with 9 seconds left set the final score.
Smith and Togashi led the spirited comeback with 21 and 17 points, respectively, while top Niigata import Rosco Allen again paced the loss with a game-high 26 markers in a full 40-minute run.
Kiefer, Shiga struggle anew
Much like Chiba, the Shinshu Brave Warriors also piled on a huge 26-6 third-quarter blitz to send the visiting Shiga Lakestars to their sixth straight loss, 90-80.
After starting the season with a 5-1 record, the Lakestars are now sinking with a 6-8 slate, while the Brave Warriors rose to 9-5 for the season.
Shiga Monthly MVP Kiefer Ravena, who was benched the entire second quarter, was a complete non-factor in the Lakestars’ horrid second half, and finished with just 7 points on 2-of-8 shooting with 5 turnovers, and a game-worst plus-minus of -19.
After completing their huge third-quarter turnaround to enter the final frame up 11, 68-57, the Brave Warriors never let up on both ends, and peaked with a 13-point lead off two Josh Hawkinson free throws with 1:25 left in regulation.
Shinshu star guard Yuta Okada led all scorers with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists with no turnovers, backstopped by 15 markers from fellow local Ko Kumagai.
Fil-Japanese big man Matt Aquino, meanwhile, remained inactive from the roster for the second straight game after being replaced by the returning Tatsuya Nishiyama.
Shiga import Novar Gadson broke a personal slump in the loss, and led with 22 points, 7 boards, and 6 dimes off the bench, while fellow reinforcements Ovie Soko and Sean O’mara chipped in 18 and 17 markers, respectively.
All Division 1 teams will get a three-week break to make way for the first window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers from November 26 to 29.
Most squads will return on Saturday, December 4, while the Lakestars and the Sun Rockers Shibuya get a rare Sunday-Monday back-to-back schedule on December 5 and 6. – Rappler.com