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Hiroshima Dragonflies Bolster Playoff Hopes with Stellar Play in April

In April, the Hiroshima Dragonflies, led by American coach Kyle Milling, went 8-2. They lead the B.League wild-card standings with two games left in the season.



Hiroshima Dragonflies
Hiroshima Dragonflies small forward Seiya Funyu runs the offense as Shimane Susanoo Magic point guard Hiromu Kitagawa defends on April 28, 2024, in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. (B.LEAGUE)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Hiroshima Dragonflies Bolster Playoff Hopes with Stellar Play in April

The Hiroshima Dragonflies thrived in April to solidify their chances of clinching a wild-card berth for the upcoming B.League playoffs.

Head coach Kyle Milling's squad won eight of 10 April games. This run included four victories in a row heading into the final week of the 2023-24 season.

The Dragonflies (35-23) play host to the reigning champion Ryukyu Golden Kings (40-18) to close out the regular season on Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5. Expect an intense two-game showdown from the rivals. With Ryukyu taking a season-high three-game losing streak to Hiroshima, it should add an extra layer of intrigue to the teams' final series of the regular season.

Hiroshima holds the slimmest of leads over the Chiba Jets (34-24) in the wild-card standings. The top-two finishers in the Eastern Conference, Central Conference and Western Conference and two wild-card entrants all qualify for the playoffs.

In the East, the Utsunomiya Brex (49-9) and Alvark Tokyo (46-12) have punched their tickets to the postseason, and the Central's San-en NeoPhoenix (46-12) are also in. That leaves the SeaHorses Mikawa (34-24), the Sunrockers Shibuya (33-35) and the Kawasaki Brave Thunders (32-26) still in the hunt among Central squads for the runner–up spot or a wild-card berth.

And in the West, the third-place Shimane Susanoo Magic (33-23) are also still in the mix, behind Ryukyu and the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins (39-19).

Hiroshima Dragonflies
Hiroshima Dragonflies players celebrate late in the fourth quarter on April 28 after the team extended its lead to 61-49. (B.LEAGUE)

Hiroshima Dragonflies Record Back-to-Back Series Sweeps

How did the Dragonflies cobble together their current win streak?

After dropping an 89-78 decision to the Nagasaki Velca on April 17, Hiroshima rebounded with a series sweep of the Osaka Evessa on April 20-21 (91-77 and 83-71).

The Dragonflies then edged the Susanoo Magic 71-67 in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, on Saturday, April 27.

A day later, Hiroshima led 45-41 after three quarters and then dominated the fourth quarter, making 9 of 10 shots from the field to pull away for a 65-51 win.

American power forward Nick Mayo had nine fourth-quarter points on 3-for-3 shooting, including a 3-pointer, and a pair of free throws in the pivotal final period. Frontcourt mate Kerry Blackshear Jr and veteran small forward Seiya Funyu chipped in with six and five points, respectively, in the fourth. Blackshear, who played collegiately at Virginia Tech and the University of Florida, also dished out four assists in the last quarter.

On defense, the Dragonflies clamped down on Shimane star Seiya Ando, the B.League's third-leading scorer this season (20.6 points per game). Ando, who had 26 points in the series opener, was held to 11 points (and only three in the second half). He made 4 of 17 shots from the field and faced tight defense throughout the game.

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