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B.League Playoffs: Golden Kings and Dragonflies Advance to the Finals

Reigning champion Ryukyu eliminated the Chiba Jets and Hiroshima held off the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins to set the stage for the B.League Finals in Yokohama.

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Ryukyu Golden Kings players Vic Law (left) and Keita Imamura celebrate late in the fourth quarter in Game 3 of their B.League semifinals win over the Chiba Jets on May 21, 2024, at Okinawa Arena. At right, Hiroshima Dragonflies guard Ryo Yamazaki reacts after his team's series-clinching road victory over the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins on May 20. (B.LEAGUE)

Read the full story on SportsLook - B.League Playoffs: Golden Kings and Dragonflies Advance to the Finals

A pair of Western Conference rivals will meet in the B.League Finals.

The wild-card entrant Hiroshima Dragonflies reached the championship series for the first time by beating the Western Conference champion Nagoya Diamond Dolphins 79-73 in Game 3 of the semifinals on Monday, May 20.

On Tuesday, the reigning champion Ryukyu Golden Kings punched their ticket to the B.League Finals with an 83-67 win over the Chiba Jets in Game 3 at Okinawa Arena.

The B.League Finals, a best-of-three series, is set for Saturday, Sunday and, if necessary, Tuesday, May 25, 26 and 28. Tipoff times for the three games are as follows: 12 PM, 1:10 PM and 7:05 PM at Yokohama Arena.

During the 2023-24 regular season, the Golden Kings defeated the Dragonflies in three of their four matches.

On December 16, 2023, Ryukyu won 80-73 at Okinawa Arena, followed by a 76-71 victory the next day.

Hiroshima beat visiting Ryukyu 69-59 on May 4, and the Golden Kings bounced back with an 89-80 verdict in the teams' final regular-season game, closing out the season with a 41-19 record. Hiroshima qualified as one of eight playoff participants with a 36-24 record.

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Ryukyu guard Shota Onodera runs the offense in the first half on May 21 at Okinawa Arena. (B.LEAGUE)

Golden Kings Build a Commanding Lead in Game 3

After being hammered 95-62 in Game 1 of the B.League semifinal series on May 18, the Golden Kings rebounded with an 81-63 victory the next day to force a decisive Game 3.

Playing before their home fans at Okinawa Arena, with an announced crowd of 8,712 on Tuesday night, Ryukyu was fired up from the get-go, jumping out to a 22-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.

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The Golden Kings' Allen Durham in action in Game 3 as the Jets' John Mooney defends. (B.LEAGUE)

By halftime, the reigning champs extended their lead to 46-31. Former NBA center Jack Cooley had 10 points and Allen Durham and Hayato Maki both scored eight in the opening half.

For Chiba, Yuki Togashi had 15 points to carry the offense.

The Jets made a slight dent in the deficit in the third quarter but still trailed 65-55 entering the fourth.

Facing Ryukyu's tenacious defense, Togashi was not a big factor in the second half. He finished with 18 points and six assists and made just 1 of 9 3s. Teammates Christopher Smith and Xavier Cooks had 15 and 14 points, respectively. Chiba was held to 27-for-69 shooting (39%).

B.League
Chiba's Yuki Togashi shoots a jumper in the first half. (B.LEAGUE)

Cooley had a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) and was named the game MVP, much to the delight of the high-energy crowd.

Durham chipped in with 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Vic Law had 13 points, Hayato Maki chipped in with 11, Ryuichi Kishimoto scored nine and Shota Onodera had eight.

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Golden Kings center Jack Cooley (B.LEAGUE)

Golden Kings React to Their Game 3 Win

"I'm so proud of the way we played," Cooley said on the court after the game, "and the way you guys (the fans) came out to support us on this rainy day."

Smiling and full of joy, Cooley added this message for the clapping fans: "Thank you all for your support. Now let's go get two more [wins]."

The Golden Kings swept the Jets in the B.League Finals in May 2023. 

Then, on March 16, Chiba made a big statement with a 117-69 triumph in the 99th All Japan Basketball Championship, aka Emperor's Cup final, at Saitama Super Arena.

Overall, the playoff series against the perennial title-contending Jets was a valuable test, according to team captain Kishimoto. "It really gave us a chance to grow as a team," he said.

In his instant analysis after the game, Golden Kings bench boss Dai Oketani commended his players for their effort and composure against the Jets.

"Chiba had a good third quarter, but then we were able to take it (momentum) back in the fourth quarter," Oketani noted.

Oketani expressed confidence that his team will defend its title against Hiroshima.

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"We have a chance to go back-to-back," he said, "and we will."

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