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BASKETBALL | Sunrockers Earn First Victory of Season on Ryan Kelly's Buzzer-Beating Jumper




With just two weeks of games completed, parity is a defining trait of the new B. League season.


Only three squads (Akita Northern Happinets, Utsunomiya Brex and SeaHorses Mikawa) have unbeaten records among the 20 first-division teams. Fifty-six more games remain on each team's schedule.




Sunday Spotlight


In Tokyo, the Sunrockers Shibuya collected their first victory of the season in dramatic fashion on Sunday, October 11.



Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Ryan Kelly sank a buzzer-beating long jump shot in the final second to lift the Sunrockers to an 87-86 victory over the Chiba Jets Funabashi.


Kelly's basket came just after Yuki Togashi had drained a pull-up 3-pointer to put the Jets ahead by a point with 3 seconds remaining at Aoyama Gakuin University Memorial Hall.


Shibuya coach Tsutomu Isa told reporters after the game that his first option was to get the ball to star guard Leo Vendrame for the final shot. But Chiba played tight defense on Vendrame, and Kenta Hirose inbounded the ball to Kelly instead. The veteran forward took three dribbles before releasing a shot from just inside the 3-point arc over the arms of Jets big man Sebastian Saiz. 


Shibuya's Ryan Kelly makes the winning shot against Chiba in the final second on Sunday, October 11. Credit: B. League


Kelly’s winning shot happened on the same calendar day that the Lakers captured the NBA championship at Walt Disney World in Florida.


Asked about the play later, Kelly, who played for Los Angeles from 2013-16, described it this way: "I felt confident and hit [it] on a good trajectory."



See video footage of Kelly's dramatic, last-second clutch shot here


Led by Hirose, Sunrockers players then rushed to congratulate Kelly, a Duke University alum who finished with 18 points and six assists, and the scene erupted in a joyous celebration.


Isa admitted he was "relieved" Shibuya (1-3) (the team) earned its first victory, a bounce-back triumph over Chiba after a two-point defeat at home on the previous day. He told reporters the result "gives the team confidence."


Fan favorite Vendrame paced the hosts with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Charles Jackson had 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.


Sunrockers captain Leo Vendrame had 20 points in the series finale against the Jets on October 11. Credit: B. League


Gavin Edwards led the Jets (3-1) with 20 points, while Togashi poured in 19 with seven assists. Saiz, who suited up for the Sunrockers last season, scored 15 points and Shannon Shorter had 13 points and four steals.




Friday Score


Alvark Tokyo 80, Hiroshima Dragonflies 71



Friday Highlights


Key performers from the October 9 game include:


Tokyo: Kevin Jones (23 points, 10-for-18 shooting), Alex Kirk (22 points, eight rebounds), Daiki Tanaka (eight points), Seiya Ando (six assists).



Hiroshima: Gregory Echenique (15 points, eight rebounds), Isiah Murphy (14 points), Jamari Traylor (11 rebounds), Ryo Terashima (eight assists).



Saturday Results


Alvark Tokyo 81, Hiroshima Dragonflies 71

Yokohama B-Corsairs 84, Shiga Lakestars 76

Nagoya Diamond Dolphins 76, Shimane Susanoo Magic 60

Kawasaki Brave Thunders 77, Osaka Evessa 62

Utsunomiya Brex 74, Shinshu Brave Warriors 52

Levanga Hokkaido 94, Toyama Grouses 82


SeaHorses Mikawa 63, San-en NeoPhoenix 55

Ryukyu Golden Kings 89, Niigata Albirex BB 75

Chiba Jets Funabashi 93, Sunrockers Shibuya 91



Ryukyu guard Takumi Ishizaki shoots a layup in a game against Niigata on October 10 in Okinawa. Credit: B. League


Top Saturday Performers


Noteworthy efforts from October 10 included:


Tokyo: Kevin Jones (21 points, nine rebounds), Daiki Tanaka (20 points, seven assists), Yutaro Suda (18 points, 4-for-6 from 3-point range), Alex Kirk (11 rebounds), Seiya Ando (eight assists). Team record: 3-1.



Hiroshima: Gregory Echenique (24 points, 12 rebounds), Thomas Kennedy (13 points), Ryo Terashima (11 assists). Record: 1-3.


Yokohama: Aki Chambers (23 points, 5-for-7 on 3-point shots), Reginald Becton (11 points), Kenta Morii (seven assists), Edward Morris (eight points, 13 rebounds).


Shiga: Will Creekmore (20 points), Kevin Hareyama (16 points), Shunto Murakami (15 points), Masaya Karimata (13 points, five assists).


Nagoya: Jeff Ayres (19 points, eight rebounds), Justin Burrell (12 points), Makoto Kinoshita (12 points). One key to victory: holding Shimane to 35.3% shooting.


Shimane: De'mon Brooks (21 points).



Kawasaki: Nick Fazekas (26 points, 10-for-17 shooting, nine rebounds), Jordan Heath (11 points), Pablo Aguilar (10 points, eight rebounds), Ryusei Shinoyama (nine points). Team highlight: Eight players with two or more assists.


Osaka: Garrett Stutz (24 points, 10-for-13 shooting), Takuya Hashimoto (12 points), Josh Harrellson (11 points, 10 rebounds).


Utsunomiya: Josh Scott (18 points, 15 rebounds), Ryan Rossiter (11 points, 12 rebounds, five assists), Hironori Watanabe (nine points), Kosuke Takeuchi (nine rebounds). Key game fact: Brex outrebounded Brave Warriors 54-29.


Shinshu: Takumi Masuko (14 points).


Toyama: Julian Mavunga (25 points, nine rebounds), Satoru Maeta (22 points), Naoki Uto (16 points, seven assists).



Hokkaido: Nick Mayo (32 points, 13 rebounds), Jordan Taylor (17 points).


Mikawa: Davante Gardner (24 points, eight rebounds), Takuya Kawamura (14 points, 4-for-4 on 3s), Cedric Simmons (nine rebounds, two blocks).


San-en: Takanobu Nishikawa (15 points, 11 rebounds), Atsuya Ota (12 points).


Ryukyu: Takumi Ishizaki (seven assists and zero turnovers in 13-plus minutes off the bench), Jack Cooley (26 points, 18 rebounds), Jason Washburn (15 points), Hiroki Tashiro (11 points), Ryuichi Kishimoto (11 points).


Niigata: Mark St. Fort (13 points), Teppei Kashiwagura (12 points), Richard Hendrix (10 points, nine rebounds, seven assists).



Chiba: Sebastian Saiz (21 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks), Gavin Edwards (20 points, nine rebounds), Shannon Shorter (18 points, five assists), Yuki Togashi (11 points, 10 assists).


Shibuya: Charles Jackson (18 points, 11 rebounds), Ryan Kelly (17 points), Kosuke Ishii (10 points).



Sunday's Other Scores


Mikawa 85, San-en 57

Toyama 92, Hokkaido 84

Nagoya 80, Shimane 72

Shiga 72, Yokohama 63


Akita 79, Kyoto 68

Ryukyu 86, Niigata 79

Utsunomiya 84, Shinshu 74

Kawasaki 88, Osaka 53



Top Sunday Performers


Noteworthy efforts from October 11 included:


Mikawa: Davante Gardner (23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists), Kosuke Kanamaru (21 points, five 3-pointers). Team record: 4-0.



San-en: Hayato Kawashima (10 points), Andre Murray (10 points). Record: 0-4.


Toyama: Julian Mavunga (26 points, 15 rebounds), Naoki Uto (18 points, five assists), Yoshiyuki Matsuwaki (15 points). Record: 3-1.


Hokkaido: Jordan Taylor (22 points), Nick Mayo (22 points, 10 rebounds), Jawad Williams (11 points), Asahi Tajima (10 points). Record: 2-2.


Nagoya: Jeff Ayres (20 points, 12 rebounds, two steals), Shuto Ando (13 points, four assists). Key fact: outscored Shimane 32-17 in fourth quarter. Record: 3-1.


Shimane: De'mon Brooks (29 points), Ryo Abe (12 points), Nyika Williams (12 points), Yasuhiro Yamashita (six assists). Record: 2-2.



Shiga: Will Creekmore (19 points, 11 rebounds), Angus Brandt (12 points, 11 rebounds), Kevin Hareyama (11 points), Masaya Karimata (10 points). Key stat: outscored Yokohama 23-8 in the fourth quarter. Record: 1-3.


Yokohama: Masaaki Morikawa (14 points, five assists), Reginald Becton (13 points), Edward Morris (11 rebounds). Record: 2-2.


Akita: Javier Carter (17 points), Kadeem Coleby (12 points, 10 rebounds), Takatoshi Furukawa (12 points). Record: 4-0.


Kyoto: Jotaro Mitsuda (16 points), Ryo Terashima (15 points seven assists), Jordan Faison (11 points), Keijuro Matsui (10 points). Record: 0-4.


Ryukyu: Ryuichi Kishimoto (17 points), Jack Cooley (16 points, nine rebounds), Jason Washburn (12 points, 10 rebounds), Keita Imamura (seven assists). Record: 2-2.



Niigata: Rosco Allen (35 points, seven rebounds), Kei Igarashi (13 points). Record: 1-3.


Utsunomiya: Ryan Rossiter (21 points, seven rebounds), Josh Scott (15 points), Yusuke Endo (14 points, six assists), Jeff Gibbs (12 points, three steals). Key stat: outscored Shinshu 28-11 in the fourth quarter. Record: 4-0.


Shinshu: Tatsuya Nishiyama (24 points, nine assists), Josh Hawkinson (23 points, 17 rebounds), Louis Kurihara (16 points). Record: 0-4.


Kawasaki: Nick Fazekas (18 points, eight rebounds), Naoto Tsuji (11 points), Yuto Otsuka (10 points), Ryusei Shinoyama (nine points, six assists). Key fact: led 50-25 at halftime. Record: 3-1.


Osaka: Garrett Stutz (17 points), Ira Brown (11 points), Tatsuya Ito (eight assists). Record: 1-3.




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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