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BASKETBALL | SeaHorses Mikawa Thriving in Road Contests

Ed Odeven

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Pro sports teams are expected to perform better at their own home venues. The familiarity of playing at home is supposed to give them an edge over their opponents. 

 

Some teams, of course, thrive while playing on the road.

 

Such is the case with the SeaHorses Mikawa this season. Coach Kimikazu Suzuki’s club extended its winning streak to five on Sunday, December 6 by trouncing the Shiga Lakestars 83-60.

 

The SeaHorses (13-5 overall) improved to 10-2 in road games, and share the top record in the B. League’s West Division with the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

 

In the series finale in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Mikawa transformed a 38-37 halftime lead into a commanding advantage entering the final quarter.

 

What happened?

 

Shiga outscored the hosts 24-5 in the third quarter.

 

Veteran sharpshooter Kosuke Kanamaru ignited the SeaHorses with 30 points on 11-for-16 shooting, including 4 of 7 from the 3-point range. Center Davante Gardner chipped in with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Point guard Kyle Collinsworth, a former Brigham Young University and Dallas Mavericks player, dished out 10 assists.

 

Mikawa center Davante Gardner looks to score against Shiga on December 6. Credit: B. League

 

After an atypical 18-23 record in the COVID-19-shortened 2019-20 season, the SeaHorses have returned to their winning ways. 

 

It started with a dominant performance over the season’s first two months while playing a schedule heavy on road games so far.

 

Jordan Hamilton led the Lakestars (7-11) with 13 points.

 

SeaHorses Mikawa coach Kimikazu Suzuki’s team has won five straight games. Credit: B. League

 

Suzuki credited Shiga for playing with “good defensive energy in the first half,” which he said made it difficult for his team to run its offense.

 

In the third quarter, Suzuki added, the SeaHorses defense did a good job of slowing down their opponent’s offense, limiting ball movement.

 

Mikawa opened the series with a 96-81 triumph over Shiga on Saturday, December 5. 

 

Balanced scoring helped propel the SeaHorses to victory. Avi Koki Schafer put 20 points on the board, making 9 of 11 shots. Gardner matched Schafer’s scoring total and hauled in 12 rebounds. Kanamaru poured in 16 points and Takuya Kawamura added 15, knocking down 3 of 5 3s. Shiga’s Hamilton had a team-high 20 points.

 

Mikawa buried 12 of 25 3-point shots while its offensive clicked with precision passing and smart ball-handling decisions. The SeaHorses finished with 30 assists against seven turnovers.

 

The B. League regular season resumed on Wednesday, December 2 after a two-week break, which was originally planned due to the Japan national team’s scheduled FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers. Those games, however, were called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other Asian nations, however, competed in Bahrain.

 

 

Toyama Grouses guard Naoki Uto shoots a layup against the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins on December 6. Credit: B. League

 

Sunday Rewind

Grouses 80, Diamond Dolphins 59

 

In Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture, the hosts avenged a series-opening defeat to end the weekend on a winning note.

 

Julian Mavunga provided a solid all-around effort (17 points, six rebounds, six assists) and Richard Solomon poured in 17 points and corralled 16 rebounds. Naoki Uto contributed 12 points for the Grouses (13-5).

 

For Nagoya (11-7), Jeff Ayres and Leo Lyons each scored 15 points.

 

The Diamond Dolphins won Saturday’s match 83-79.

 

Osaka Evessa point guard Hiromu Nakamura dribbles the ball on December 6 against the Utsunomiya Brex. Credit: B. League

 

Evessa 90, Brex 73

 

In Osaka, D.J. Newbill capitalized on repeated trips to the free-throw line and had a banner offensive performance in Evessa’s bounce-back victory over Utsunomiya.

 

Newbill had a game-best 26 points, making 4 of 7 3-pointers and connecting on 12 of 15 free-throw attempts. He also doled out eight assists. Teammate Ira Brown had a productive outing, too, with 18 points, seven rebounds, four steals and four blocks.

 

Osaka (8-10), which suffered a 94-69 loss on Saturday, had five players score in double figures, and 23-year-old point guard Hiromu Nakamura energized his club with a nine-point, four-assist, three-steal effort. It was Nakamura’s third straight start after coming off the bench in his first seven games of the season.

 

For the Brex (15-3), Jeff Gibbs and Ryan Rossiter scored 17 points apiece.

 

Utsunomiya, which prides itself on a balanced inside-outside scoring attack, missed 21 of 26 3s.

 

Alvark Tokyo point guard Seiya Ando runs the team’s offense against the Ryukyu Golden Kings on December 6. Credit: B. League

 

Alvark 85, Golden Kings 54

 

In Okinawa City, Tokyo rebounded from a series-opening defeat to produce a headline-grabbing rout of Ryukyu.

 

Alvark coach Luka Pavicevic’s squad set the tone from the get-go and led 21-9 entering the second quarter.

 

Tokyo (11-7) closed out the game by outscoring the hosts 30-9 in the final stanza.

 

The Golden Kings (13-5) never led and shot 36.4% (20-for-55) from the field.

 

Kevin Jones sparked the Alvark with 21 points and snared 11 rebounds to complete the double-double, while reigning B. League MVP Daiki Tanaka had 15 points. Deshaun Thomas provided 13 and Alex Kirk scored 10. Steady conductor Seiya Ando spearheaded Tokyo’s fast-paced offense with five assists, and the visitors chalked up 25 assists with just 10 turnovers in the win.

 

Brave Warriors 63, Hannaryz 51

 

In Kyoto, Washington State alum Josh Hawkinson excelled at both ends of the floor as Shinshu salvaged a series split, scoring a game-high 33 points and grabbing 23 rebounds.

 

Hawkinson was the lone double-digit scorer for the Brave Warriors (7-11), who fell 69-66 a day earlier.

 

David Simon paced the Hannaryz (4-14) with 22 points.

 

B-Corsairs 90, NeoPhoenix 82

 

In Hamamatsu, Robert Carter’s 27-point effort and Reginald Becton’s 15-point, 10-rebound outing helped steer Yokohama past struggling San-en for the second straight day.

 

The B-Corsairs (5-13), who outscored the hosts 51-32 in the second half, also received a boost from Kenta Morii, Masaaki Morikawa and Carter, all of whom had six assists.

 

For the NeoPhoenix (4-14), Hayato Kawashima and Stevan Jeovac both scored 18 points. 

 

San-en has dropped seven consecutive games.

 

Yokohama opened the weekend with a 79-68 win.

 

Dynamic Filipino guard Thirdy Ravena, who made his debut for San-en on November 7, didn’t play in the series after recently testing positive for COVID-19.

 

“All good over here,” Ravena tweeted on November 28. “Appreciate all the love and concern over the past 24 hours. I feel well already but have to follow quarantine protocols indefinitely. Just a reminder that the virus is still out there so let’s not take it for granted. Stay safe everyone! Much love.”

 

RELATED STORY:

BASKETBALL | Thirdy Ravena’s B. League Debut Attracts Big Attention in Philippines

 


Jets 92, Susanoo Magic 70

 

In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, the hosts outclassed Shimane in the third quarter to seal the victory and earn their second weekend triumph.

 

The Jets put 31 points on the board in the third and held the visitors to 16 to take a 72-50 advantage into the final quarter.

 

Sebastian Saiz notched a double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Yuki Togashi had 13 points for Chiba (15-3).

 

Reid Travis led Shimane (8-10) with 24 points.

 

The Jets recorded a 92-83 win in the series opener.

 

Northern Happinets 84, Dragonflies 78

 

In Noshiro, Akita Prefecture, the hosts’ pesky defense played a pivotal role in their second win in as many days over Hiroshima.

 

Five Northern Happinets players had two steals, a sign of the team’s overall commitment to defense.

 

Alex Davis scored 18 points and hauled in 10 rebounds, and Takatoshi Furukawa followed with 16 points. Kadeem Coleby had 13 points, and 22-year-old guard Sota Oura chipped in with 12 for his third straight double-digit scoring game for Akita (10-8).

 

Thomas Kennedy was the top scorer (23 points) for the Dragonflies. Hiroshima (4-14) lost its fifth in a row.

 

The Northern Happinets clobbered the visitors 95-73 in the opener.

 

Sunrockers 97, Albirex BB 72

 

In Tokyo, former Los Angeles Lakers forward Ryan Kelly put his stamp on the game with a splendid shooting effort to lead Shibuya past Niigata for the second straight day.

 

Kelly, who led all players with 31 points, made 12 of 16 shots. He also supplied six rebounds, five assists, three steals and a blocked shot for the Sunrockers (11-7). Teammate Charles Jackson had 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting, while Kaito Morizane finished with a season-high 12 points. 

 

Jason Washburn scored 23 points for the Albirex (6-12).

 

In the weekend opener, Shibuya collected an 85-67 win.

 

Monday Rewind

Brave Thunders 71, Levanga 53

 

In the first division’s lone game on December 7, host Kawasaki whipped Hokkaido to complete a two-game sweep.

 

Pablo Aguilar had 20 points to lead the Brave Thunders (13-5), while Nick Fazekas added 15 points, 11 boards and six assists, and Naoto Tsuji scored nine points.

 

The Levanga (4-14) never led. Jordan Taylor paced the visitors with 21 points and Jawad Williams scored 14.

 

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays,  in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @itsjapanforward.

 

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Ed Odeven is a longtime sports journalist who previously worked for The Japan Times as its chief basketball reporter for nearly 14 years. He also covered a wide range of other sports for the newspaper, including at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. A graduate of Arizona State University, Odeven worked for several newspapers in the Grand Canyon State before moving to Japan. He has freelanced for dozens of media outlets around the world.