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Best in the B.League: Alvark and NeoPhoenix Setting the Pace

Led by second-year head coaches, the Alvark Tokyo and San-en NeoPhoenix have 24-4 records as the B.League gears up for the second half of the 60-game season.



Alvark Tokyo guard Kai Toews shoots a jumper against the Kawasaki Brave Thunders in the second quarter on January 7, 2024, at Yoyogi National Stadium. (B.LEAGUE)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Best in the B.League: Alvark and NeoPhoenix Setting the Pace

As the B.League moves closer to the official midway point of the 2023-24 season, two teams are tied for the top record.

The Eastern Conference-leading Alvark Tokyo and Central Conference-leading San-en NeoPhoenix have 24-4 records through Sunday, January 7.

Tokyo completed a two-game sweep of the visiting Kawasaki Brave Thunders on Sunday, recording a 99-76 triumph at Yoyogi National Stadium. As a result, the Alvark extended their winning streak to four games.

On the same day, the visiting NeoPhoenix topped the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins 80-74, stretching their win streak to six.

Forward Coty Clarke is the San-en NeoPhoenix's leading scorer this season, averaging 16.9 points through January 7. (B.LEAGUE)

After the 2024 B.League All-Star Game on Sunday, January 14 at Okinawa Arena, the 60-game regular season will resume with all 24 teams in action on Wednesday, January 17.

Heading into the All-Star break, several other teams have grabbed attention for their strong performances on the court.


The Utsunomiya Brex (22-6, winners of four in a row) sit in second place in the East, followed by the Chiba Jets (15-13) and Akita Northern Happinets (14-14).

Update on the Central's Other Playoff Contenders

In the Central, the SeaHorses Mikawa (19-9, including three straight victories) are a much-improved team this season. Mikawa posted a 27-33 record in 2022-23 in longtime coach Kimikazu Suzuki's final season in charge. New bench boss Ryan Richman, who previously served as an NBA assistant coach with the Washington Wizards, has revitalized the franchise.

Mikawa earned its latest victory, 87-65 over the Ibaraki Robots, on Sunday. Established team leader Davante Gardner and 2023-24 newcomer Zach Auguste led the SeaHorses with 20 and 18 points, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Central's Sunrockers Shibuya (15-13) take a five-game win streak into the All-Star break. Shibuya hammered the visiting Levanga Hokkaido 92-61 on Sunday. Josh Hawkinson scored a team-high 24 points, Anthony Clemmons poured in 19 points and Ryan Kelly had 18 for the Sunrockers.

A Quick Look at the Playoff Picture in the West

The reigning champion Ryukyu Golden Kings (20-8) are in first place in the West, and the Shimane Susanoo Magic (17-11) hold the second spot in the standings. With four straight defeats, the Diamond Dolphins (16-12) find themselves right behind Shimane. Also, the Hiroshima Dragonflies (15-13, including four wins in a row) have positioned themselves to make a run at a playoff berth.

In addition, keep an eye on the Saga Ballooners (15-13) and Nagasaki Velca (14-14). Both clubs have made a solid transition to the B.League first division this season after earning promotion from the second division.

San-en NeoPhoenix guard Thirdy Ravena looks to score in the first quarter against the host Nagoya Diamond Dolphins on January 6. (B.LEAGUE)

NeoPhoenix Rise to the Top

Second-year NeoPhoenix coach Atsushi Ono presided over a team that went 23-37 in 2022-23, a season of adjustments.

Gradually, Ono's approach has helped the squad develop into a more cohesive unit. 

The veteran coach insisted that the foundation for the NeoPhoenix's success begins at practice.

"I coach them strictly when they do not have the right mindset in practice," Ono told reporters after Sunday's victory.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


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


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