Japanese basketball

Juan GDL, Tokyo earn rare win, finally leave B. League cellar

JR Isaga
Juan GDL, Tokyo earn rare win, finally leave B. League cellar

Juan Gomez de Liaño of Earthfriends Tokyo Z. Japan B. League

Japan B. League

This is the first time Tokyo escapes the bottom of Division 2

MANILA, Philippines – The Earthfriends Tokyo Z completed a fruitful back-to-back slate by their standards after upsetting the Yamagata Wyverns at home, 72-63, on Monday, November 29, before falling in the Tuesday, November 30 rematch, 62-77.

Although the Earthfriends split the weekday slate, their rare win in the first game pushed them up to a 2-14 record, and marked the first time the team left the season Division 2 cellar. Alone at the basement is Kemark Carino and the 1-16 Aomori Wat’s.

Juan Gomez de Liano settled into his usual background role in the Monday game, and finished with 4 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in 18 minutes of action while top import Marc Norelia led the way with a 22-point, 13-rebound double-double.

Tokyo set the tone early on with a massive 15-2 start, and never looked back. Unlike previous games where they failed to protect even double-digit leads, they kept the pressure up, and peaked with an 18-point gap, 68-50, midway through the final frame.

The Wyverns only trimmed the deficit to single digits with 2:29 left, 61-70, off an 11-2 run capped by a Jawad Williams jumper, but it was too little, too late for the visiting squad. Williams led the losing cause with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.

The Earthfriends, however, failed to stage a repeat performance in the Tuesday rematch, as Yamagata took care of business with a 15-point rout.

Unlike the first game, the Wyverns matched their opponents point for point in the 19-all first quarter, before gaining ground at the half with a 38-30 lead.

While Tokyo kept within striking distance all the way to the fourth quarter, Yamagata shifted to a higher gear, and rode a 10-2 start to turn a 55-51 lead to a 65-53 gap with 6:19 left.

This was all the breathing room the visitors needed to put away their hosts for good, as they ultimately peaked with a 17-point lead, 77-60, in the final 43 ticks of regulation.

Williams again topscored for Yamagata with 15 points in just 24 minutes off the bench while Joshua Crawford and Norelia paced the losing side with 19 and 17 markers, respectively.

Gomez de Liano, meanwhile, was limited to just 2 points, 1 rebound, and a plus-minus of -19. He was also deployed for just 9 minutes even as a starter, which snapped an eight-game streak of double-digit minutes.

The Earthfriends will get just three days of rest before Gomez de Liano goes head-to-head with Carino and Aomori for the first time this season on Saturday and Sunday, December 3 and 4. – Rappler.com