B.League Finals: Chiba Jets and Ryukyu Golden Kings to Vie for Title
Ryukyu, the 2021-22 championship runner-up, returns to the B.League Finals with great motivation, while Chiba seeks its second title in three years.
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An enticing matchup for the B.League Finals was finalized on Sunday, May 21.
The Eastern Conference champion Chiba Jets completed a two-game sweep of the Alvark Tokyo to book a spot in the best-of-three title series against the Western Conference champion Ryukyu Golden Kings, who eliminated the Yokohama B-Corsairs on the same day.
Game 1 of the Finals is on Saturday, May 27 at 12 PM at Yokohama Arena, and Game 2 is on Sunday, May 28 at 1:10 PM. If necessary, Game 3 will be held on Tuesday May 30 at 7:05 PM to determine the 2022-23 B.League champion.
In May 2022, the Utsunonomiya Brex swept the Golden Kings in a two-game championship series at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Ryukyu had a league-best 49-7 record in the 2021-22 campaign but fell short of its ultimate goal. It was head coach Dai Oketani's first season at the helm of his second stint with the franchise. (He previously coached the club from 2008-12 and won two bj-league titles.)
This season, the Jets had a league-best 53-7 record and never lost back-to-back games. First-year head coach John Patrick's squad had a B.League record 24-game win streak snapped on March 22.
Head-to-Head in the 2022-23 Season
The Jets faced the Golden Kings on April 1 and 2 at Chiba Port Arena. Befitting of their status as two of the B.League's premier clubs since its inception in 2016, the two-game series in the final full month of the regular season lived up to the hype.
Chiba recorded an 89-85 win on April 1, with American standouts Vic Law and Christopher Smith leading the team, which had five double-digit scorers, with 22 and 20 points, respectively. Josh Duncan paced Ryukyu with 21 points.
In the April 2 rematch, Keita Imamura led the Golden Kings with 19 points in a 78-76 win over the Jets. Ryukyu's Allen Durham had 16 points and Jack Cooley provided 14 points and 17 rebounds. Law had a 19-point, 12-rebound outing, while Shuta Hara added 15 points for the Jets.
The two-game series illustrated how closely matched the two teams are. Both have deep rosters with a versatile mix of players.
Ryukyu matched the Shimane Susanoo Magic for the second-best record (48-12) in 2022-23, after leading the league in wins last season. Tokyo defeated Shimane in the opening round.
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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 Twitter ＠ed_odeven.
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