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Kawasaki Brave Thunders Have a Knack for Forcing Turnovers

Nearly one-third of the way through the B.League season, the title-chasing Kawasaki Brave Thunders lead the 24-team circuit in steals.

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Kawasaki Brave Thunders
Kawasaki Brave Thunders guard Yuto Nohmi, seen defending Shimane Susanoo Magic guard Seiya Ando on November 4, 2023, is one of his team's leaders in steals. (B.LEAGUE)

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Since the 2023-24 B.League season tipped off in early October, Kawasaki's defenders have been feisty and consistent in making things as difficult as possible for opponents. Call it a steady dose of defensive disruptions.

Through games of Sunday, December 3, the Brave Thunders are No 1 in the 24-team league in steals (133, or 8.3 per game).

Defensive acumen and defensive hustle are, of course, complementary characteristics in basketball. Without one, the other doesn't make as big of an impact for individuals and teams. 

The Brave Thunders (13-3) have demonstrated throughout the season that they are at their best when their overall performance is defined by smart defense along with high-energy play while guarding the other team.

Take Kawasaki's latest win, for example. In a gritty 80-77 overtime road triumph over the Nagasaki Velca on Saturday, December 2, the Brave Thunders' defense produced one of the defining elements of the series opener.

"We got off to a good start, but it was a difficult game with interruptions," Kawasaki head coach Kenji Sato told reporters. "I think we were able to defend well in the end, which was a big factor."

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The Brave Thunders built a 24-11 lead entering the second quarter, withstood the hosts' comeback effort, and made enough defensive stops in OT to secure their sixth consecutive victory.

Kawasaki Brave Thunders
Kawasaki Brave Thunders big man Nick Fazekas looks to score against the Nagasaki Velca on December 2. (B.LEAGUE)

Star Power Helps Lift the Brave Thunders

In the three-point triumph over Nagasaki, frontcourt linchpin Nick Fazekas paced Kawasaki with 20 rebounds and nine assists. He also poured in 18 points. Teammate Jordan Heath had a 23-point night, including 9-for-9 shooting from inside the 3-point arc. Veteran guard Yuma Fujii was the team leader in steals (three). 

All winning streaks come to an end, and Nagasaki bounced back with a 92-85 victory on Sunday. The Velca, in their first season in the B.League's top flight, aka B1, after earning promotion from B2, improved to 10-6.

Now, nearly one-third of the way through the 60-game season, the Brave Thunders look poised to contend for the title.

Only the Alvark Tokyo and San-en NeoPhoenix, with identical 14-2 records, have more wins through the 16-game mark. 

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

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