Golden Kings preparing for playoffs, home finale
The Ryukyu Golden Kings are a game out of first place in the Basketball Japan League’s Western Conference, trailing the red-hot Kyoto Hannaryz as the season winds down later this month.
Okinawa stages its home finale at the Okinawa City Gym the 25th and 26th, facing the Shiga Lakestars. They had a bye last weekend, using the opportunity to practice and meet fans at the Camp Foster Festival.
Meanwhile, those pesky Hannaryz were setting records, ripping the Shimane Susanoo Magic in a two-game sweep to set a franchise record of 40 victories. They beat the Magic 96-69 in the opener and 87-70 Sunday while achieving that team record. Kyoto is now 40-8, one game ahead of the Golden Kings. The Hannaryz squad’s eying the playoffs with some trepidation though, because the Golden Kings have blocked their way to the conference and league championships twice in recent years.
The Golden Kings are 39-9, with the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix nipping at their heels with a 38-10 record with only a handful of games left in the 10-team Western Conference.
Elsewhere, the Toyama Grouses fell to the Sendai 89ers 86-78 in their opener, but bounced back to take a 75-69 Sunday tilt to hold their record steady at 32-16. Still, the 89ers are a game ahead of Toyama with a 33-15 record. The Akita Northern Happinets had to work for their series sweep of the Aomori Wat’s, winning handily in the opener, 90-73, but needing overtime to pull out a 91-82 victory on Sunday. The Northern Happinets are 38-10 and second in the Eastern Conference, while the Wat’s in the middle of the pack at 23-25.
The Gunma Crane Thunders split a series with the Yokohama B-Corsairs in a game having little bearing on the upcoming playoffs picture. Ginma won the opener 75-57, and the B-Corsairs took a five-point 78-73 win to close the series. Gunma is now 18-30, while the B-Corsairs are 15-33. The Eastern Conference leading Iwate Big Bulls had little trouble with the Saitama Broncos, trouncing them 112-72 and 108-47, to extend their conference win streak. Iwate’s 39-9, while the lowly Broncos fall to 5-43.
The Fukushima Firebonds hammered another cellar-dwelling team, the Tokyo Cinq Reves, 74-69 and 99-87, in another game with no playoffs implications. The Firebonds are at 19-29, while Tokyo shares the basement at 5-43. The Niigata Albirex BB boosted its record to 33-15 heading into the playoffs with wins against the Shinshu Brave Warriors, snatching 93-64 and 84-69 victories. The Brave Warriors are now 19-29.
The Lakestars were busy on the road, sweeping a series with the Oita HeatDevils, running their season record to 32-16 with a pair of games remaining. The Osaka Evessa fared well, upending the Takamatsu Five Arrows on the road twice. Osaka took the opener 75-71, and the Sunday game 91-66. The Five Arrows are 14-34.