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A Trio of B.League Playoff Spots Still Up for Grabs

Heading into the next-to-last week of the B.League season, the Chiba Jets (34-22 record) have the most wins among the wild-card contenders.

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B.League
Sunrockers Shibuya forward Jeff Gibbs runs the offense against the San-en NeoPhoenix on April 21, 2024, at Aoyama Gakuin Memorial Hall in Tokyo. (B.LEAGUE)

Read the full story on SportsLook - A Trio of B.League Playoff Spots Still Up for Grabs

As the 2023-24 B.League regular season approaches its final two weeks of games, five of the eight playoff berths have been secured.

Among the Eastern Conference's squads, the Utsunomiya Brex (47-9) and the Alvark Tokyo (45-11) have qualified for postseason play. The Chiba Jets (34-22) are in the hunt for one of two wild-card berths. (The top two finishers in each conference plus two wild cards make up the playoff field.)

In the Central Conference, the much-improved San-en NeoPhoenix (44-12) ran away with the conference title, and the SeaHorses Mikawa (33-23), the Sunrockers Shibuya (32-24) and the Kawasaki Brave Thunders (31-25) all still have a mathematical shot at earning a trip to the postseason.

B.League
Ryukyu Golden Kings standout Keita Imamura in action on April 21 against the Nagasaki Velca at Okinawa Arena. (B.LEAGUE)

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the reigning champion Ryukyu Golden Kings (40-16) and the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins (37-19) have also booked spots in the playoffs. Two West squads, the Hiroshima Dragonflies (33-23) and the Shimane Susanoo Magic (32-24), still hope to squeeze into the playoffs.

Top Wild-Card Contenders

To summarize the aforementioned quintet's wild-card quest succinctly, Chiba is first among these contenders with 34 wins. Mikawa and Hiroshima are both a victory behind the Jets. Shibuya and Shimane are a further win adrift and Kawasaki is sitting three wins behind Chiba.

After the penultimate round of games is completed on Sunday, April 28, the full playoff picture will likely be more clear. But the entire eight-team field may also not be determined until the last day of the regular season, May 5.

Starting on Saturday, four weekend series appear most significant based on the information reported above: Shimane vs Hiroshima, Chiba vs Utsunomiya, Kawasaki vs Shibuya and Mikawa vs the Saga Ballooners (28-28).

B.League
Sunrockers guard Anthony Clemmons shoots a 3-pointer in the series finale against the NeoPhoenix on April 21. (B.LEAGUE)

B.League Playoff Chase: The Sunrockers Playing Strong Late in the Season

Entering the next-to-last week of regular-season games, the Sunrockers, led by first-year bench boss Luka Pavicevic, own the current longest winning streak (three games) among the league's 24 teams.

Shibuya is coming off a two-game sweep of San-en on April 20 and 21, winning the two games at Aoyama Gakuin Memorial Hall by a combined eight points.

In the series opener, the Sunrockers triumphed 92-87, with backcourt mates Leo Vendrame and Anthony Clemmons both scoring 22 points to spark the offense. And the Sunrockers secured a 66-63 victory by holding the NeoPhoenix to 20 second-half points in the rematch.

B.League
Shibuya guard Anthony Clemmons receives the Most Impressive Player honor after a 29-point game against San-en on April 21. (B.LEAGUE)

Also noteworthy about Shibuya's win on April 21 was the fact that it overcame a 43-36 halftime deficit.

The Sunrockers held the NeoPhoenix to 4-for-14 shooting and nine total points in the third quarter.

By doing so, Shibuya pulled ahead 54-52 entering the final quarter.

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Clemmons Ignites the Sunrockers in the Fourth Quarter

Then, in the last period, Clemmons nailed two big 3-pointers and was 2-for-2 at the foul line to carry the Sunrockers offense. He finished with a game-high 29 points, matching his season-high scoring output.

Shibuya outscored San-en 12-11 in a tense fourth quarter.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven