Regular season champions Chiba Jets survived an early scare against the Hiroshima Dragonflies before rallying to advance during an exciting B.LEAGUE quarterfinals series. The Jets will take on Alvark Tokyo, who upset the Shimane Susanoo Magic in three games.
On the other side of the bracket, Yokohama B-Corsairs surprised their cross-town rivals Kawasaki Brave Thunders in a two-game sweep, while East Asia Super League Champions Week co-hosts Ryukyu Golden Kings swept the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins.
The B.LEAGUE semifinals begin this weekend. Here’s a recap of what happened in the quarters and a preview of what to expect.
Chiba Jets vs. Alvark Tokyo
What happened in the quarterfinals?
After a historic regular season, with a B.LEAGUE-record 53 wins, the Chiba Jets were stunned by the Hiroshima Dragonflies in Game 1. The Dragonflies jumped to a 17-2 run from the opening tip and Chiba could not recover, going down to the wildcard team 72-70 at home.
The Jets got it together in Game 2, showing why they were the regular season champs with a 32-point victory to tie the series at one game apiece. Christopher Smith led the way with a game-high 25 points, going six for 10 from beyond the arc.
In the deciding Game 3, the regular season league powerhouse led from beginning to end, beating Hiroshima 96-91 to advance to the semifinals. The Jets relied on 2019 B.LEAGUE Most Valuable Player Yuki Togashi, who finished the game with a double-double, scoring 19 points and dishing out 14 dimes. John Mooney was also shooting the lights out, hitting 90 percent from the field en route to a team-high 25 points.
“It was a really tough game,” Togashi said after the Game 3 win. “The Championship is all about results, so, first of all, I’m glad that we won. It might have been better if we could have finished on Saturday and Sunday, but I think we were able to grow as a team after losing on Saturday.”
The Jets will now face their East Division rivals Alvark Tokyo.
Tokyo faced off against the Shimane Susanoo Magic in the quarterfinals and they, like the Jets, fell in a hole early in the series, going down in Game 1. Shimane were led by B.LEAGUE scoring champion Perrin Buford, who posted a ridiculous 33-point triple-double, recording 17 rebounds and 14 assists.
Alvark Tokyo changed their game plan in Game 2. The team dominated the paint, outrebounding the Magic 42-27 and collectively dishing out 22 assists, leading to a convincing 82-72 victory to tie the series. Spanish import Sebas Saiz led the way with a double-double, recording 33 points and 13 boards.
A tightly contested Game 3 went to the wire. Tied with one minute to go, Zack Baranski drew a foul and sank his free throws to give Tokyo a slim lead. After Buford cut the deficit to one, Shimane had one last chance to advance to the semis. But Alvark Tokyo’s defense came up big when it mattered most, forcing Buford to commit a crucial turnover right as the buzzer sounded, giving Tokyo a narrow escape and a berth in the semifinals. The game finished 83-82. All five of Tokyo’s starters scored in double figures.
Key men in the quarters
The Chiba Jets leaned on 2019 league MVP Yuki Togashi in their quarterfinal win. The star point guard averaged 16.3 points and nine assists in three games.
John Mooney was also a force to be reckoned with as he dominated the glass, averaging 16.3 points and 8.6 rebounds, while shooting 68 percent from the field.
Spanish big man Sebas Saiz has been a huge factor in Alvark Tokyo’s success. The 2021 Finals MVP recorded a double-double in two of the three games and averaged 21 points and 10.6 rebounds over the three.
Facts and figures
- Chiba Jets won the regular season series against Alvark Tokyo three games to one.
- In their last 10 head-to-head matches, dating back to October 2020, Chiba have gone 7-3 against Tokyo, outscoring their rivals 846-784.
- Chiba Jets rank first in offense in the B.LEAGUE this season, averaging 87.9 points a game. Alvark Tokyo rank 17th, averaging 77.3 points.
- Alvark Tokyo have the best defense in the league this season, conceding just 71 points per game. Chiba rank fifth on defense, conceding 74.8 per game.
Ryukyu Golden Kings vs. Yokohama B-Corsairs
What happened in the quarterfinals?
West Region winners Ryukyu Golden Kings have a point to prove after falling short in last season’s B.LEAGUE Championship finals. The team quickly took care of business against their quarterfinal opponents, Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, sweeping the wildcard team in two games.
In Game 1, the Golden Kings showed off their prowess in the paint, as the league’s best rebounding team outrebounded their opponents 36-25. They were led by swingman Keita Imamura, the sharpshooter scoring a team-high 24 points, including hitting seven shots from three. American import Jack Cooley chipped in a double-double, recording 18 points and 11 rebounds. All five of Ryukyu’s starters scored in double figures.
The Golden Kings continued their interior dominance in Game 2, outrebounding the Diamond Dolphins 37-22. Forward Allen Durham led the way with a 30-point double-double, grabbing 12 rebounds in the game.
Their semifinals opponents are the surprising Yokohama B-Corsairs, who upset Central Division winners Kawasaki Brave Thunders in a sweep.
In Game 1, Yokohama survived a 30-point burst from Kawasaki’s Nick Fazekas. After falling into an 11-point hole from the opening tip, the B-Corsairs outscored their opponents by nine in the third quarter to grab a two-point lead. Charles Jackson secured the victory with a jumper late in the game, giving the team their first-ever postseason victory in the B.LEAGUE.
Yokohoma offense went into full throttle in Game 2, demolishing the injury-ridden Brave Thunders by 20 points and advancing to the semifinals for the first time in team history. Jackson led the way again, going perfect from the field, finishing with a team-high 21 points.
Key men in the quarters
Ryukyu Golden Kings relied heavily on their two American imports during the quarterfinals. Former NBA D-League pro Allen Durham averaged a double-double in the series against Nagoya, recording 22 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Former FIBA Europe Cup champion Jack Cooley carried his paint dominance to the postseason, posting a double-double in each of the two games. He averaged 15 points and 11.5 boards against the Diamond Dolphins.
Former NBA D-League pro Charles Jackson was a nightmare to defend in the quarterfinals. He scored 21 points in both games against the Brave Thunders, while averaging 9.5 rebounds and two steals in the series.
Facts and figures
- Ryukyu Golden Kings and Yokohama B-Corsairs split the season series one game apiece. The B-Corsairs outscored the Golden Kings 137-127 over the two games.
- In their last 10 head-to-head matches, dating back to December 2018, Ryukyu have gone 8-2 against Yokohama, outscoring their opponents by 91 points in total.
- B-Corsairs rank seventh in offense in the league this season, averaging 82.2 points a game. Golden Kings rank ninth, averaging 81.2 points.
- Golden Kings have the fourth-best defense this season, conceding 73.5 points per game. B-Corsairs rank 13th on defense, conceding 79.1 per game.
- These two are the best rebounding teams in the country. Ryukyu lead the league with 42 rebounds a game, while Yokohama are second with 40.4 rebounds.
The B.LEAGUE Championship semifinals tip off this Saturday, May 20.
Both the B.LEAGUE Championship winners and runners-up this season will claim berths in EASL Season 2, so the upcoming semifinals will determine Japan’s entries to the East Asian championship for 2023-24.