B.LEAGUE Quarterfinals Preview: Can anyone stop the Jets?

May 12, 2023

6 mins

B.LEAGUE Quarterfinals Preview: Can anyone stop the Jets?
B.LEAGUE Quarterfinals Preview: Can anyone stop the Jets?

Written by EASL

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Chiba Jets headline the quest for 2022-23 B.LEAGUE Championship after record-breaking 53 regular season wins

After a fierce finish to the 2022-23 B.LEAGUE regular season, with the standings only decided in the final games, the playoff picture is set. The field in the quest for the title has been cut from 24 teams to eight. How do the teams match up?

Chiba Jets vs. Hiroshima Dragonflies

How did they get here?

The Chiba Jets finished a historic regular season with a B.LEAGUE record 53 wins, losing just seven games all season. The Jets embarked on a 24-game winning streak from December 2022 to March 2023, en route to winning the regular season title.  

The team were first in offense this season, averaging 87.9 points a game, and are fifth in defense, allowing just 74.8 points a game. The 2017 East Asia Super League (EASL) Terrific 8 champions are looking to secure their second B.LEAGUE title.  

However, one of Chiba’s seven losses came at the hands of the Hiroshima Dragonflies, their opponents in the quarterfinals. The Dragonflies go into the postseason with a 41-18 record, their best since entering the top division three seasons ago. This is their first-ever taste of the B.LEAGUE postseason.

Players to watch

The Chiba Jets are led by former NBA D-League pro Yuki Togashi. The 2019 B.LEAGUE Most Valuable Player averaged 15 points and 5.4 assists in the regular season.

Another former NBA pro, forward Vic Law, was the leading scorer for the Jets this season, averaging 17.1 points a game. The big man can do a little bit of everything, carrying the ball as a point-forward at times. He is also a nuisance on defense, being able to guard all positions.

The Dragonflies are led by former NCAA standout Dwayne Evans. This is Evans’ first year with the Dragonflies after playing last season with the championship runners-up Ryukyu Golden Kings. He led Hiroshima in scoring, averaging 16.5 points a game this season.  

Ryukyu Golden Kings vs. Nagoya Diamond Dolphins

How did they get here?

The Ryukyu Golden Kings did it again, winning the West Region for the sixth consecutive season. The team from Okinawa City are looking to avenge last season’s B.LEAGUE Finals loss, and enter the postseason with a 48-12 record in the regular season.  

The team has one of the best records at home, with only four losses at Okinawa Arena. They also ranked first in rebounding, averaging 42 boards a game this season.  

Last season’s B.LEAGUE runners-up, Ryukyu co-hosted EASL Champions Week in March, where they finished in fourth place. While they have entered the postseason every year since the inauguration of the B.LEAGUE, they have not yet taken home the championship trophy.

The Nagoya Diamond Dolphins claimed a wild card spot after finishing the regular season with a 43-17 record, the most wins the team has ever recorded in the B.LEAGUE. They own the second-best offense in the league, averaging 85.4 points a game this season. The team is going into the postseason on a four-game winning streak. It is their fourth championship appearance, but they have never won the title.  

Players to watch

Former FIBA Europe Cup champion Jack Cooley has been a force in the paint for the Golden Kings this season, averaging a double-double per game. He led the team in scoring, recording 16.4 points per game and leading the league with 12.7 boards.

The Diamond Dolphins’ relentless attack is led by former NBA pro Coty Clark. The wingman averaged a team-high 19.2 points a game, shooting over 50 percent from the field for Nagoya this season. However, in the four games where he faced the Golden Kings, he averaged only 15.8 points and shot just 38 percent from the field.  

Kawasaki Brave Thunders vs. Yokohama B-Corsairs

How did they get here?

Injuries and poor form have hampered Kawasaki Brave Thunders this season. Former NBA D-League pro Matt Janning only played 24 games due to injury. Michael Young, another former NBA D-League pro, is done for the year after a season-ending injury. Captain Yuma Fujii’s form has fallen away after taking home last season’s B.LEAGUE regular season MVP award.  

It was 37-year-old Nick Fazekas who held the fort with a string of strong performances, helping the Brave Thunders advance to their sixth straight postseason. Kawasaki have never won the B.LEAGUE title, but were runners-up in 2017, the league’s inaugural season.

This is the first time Yokohama B-Corsairs have made the postseason, after recording their first winning season since the inauguration of the league, posting a 33-27 record. Their improved play has come on the offensive side – they ranked top-seven in scoring, assists and rebounds this season. However, they are currently riding on a five-game losing streak.

Players to watch

Former Dallas Maverick and Los Angeles Clipper Nick Fazekas has been a force this season for the Brave Thunders. He was second in the league scoring charts at 20.8 points a game this season, while also adding 9.9 rebounds a game.  

Yuma Fujii has had a down year, but he was last season’s regular season Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. The team’s starting point guard is averaging 12.1 points and 5.1 assists this season.

Yuki Kawamura is having a breakout season with the B-Corsairs. He was fifth in league scoring, recording 19.5 points a game, improving by 9.5 points compared to last year. He has been a regular in the Japan National Basketball Team since last summer.  

Yokohama also has former NBA D-League pro Charles Jackson manning the front. Jackson averaged a double-double in his first season with the team, scoring a career-best 15.9 points and 10.7 rebounds a game.

Shimane Susanoo Magic vs. Alvark Tokyo

How did they get here?

Shimane Susanoo Magic fell just short in their effort to win a first West Division title. They shared the same 48-12 record as Ryukyu Golden Kings and, with their head-to-head series tied at two games apiece, the tiebreaker was determined through the points difference in their matchups. The Kings outscored the Magic by 12 across those games.

The Magic were also second in the West Division last season. And it was the Golden Kings that defeated them in the semifinals last year.  

The Magic depended on three-point shooting as the pillar of their fourth-ranked offense this season, hitting at a 36.2 percent clip. This was just their second winning season, and their fourth season overall, in the B.LEAGUE.  

While Alvark Tokyo’s season has been marred by injuries, the team was still able to string together two runs of 10 consecutive victories, ending the regular season with a 42-18 record.  

Tokyo boast the best defense in the league after new head coach Dainius Adomaitis instilled an aggressive approach. As a result, the team conceded a league-low of just 71 points a game this season.  

However, Alvark’s offensive game is mediocre, sitting 17th in the league with just 77.3 a game this season.  

Alvark Tokyo were back-to-back B.LEAGUE champions in 2018 and 2019, but have not reached the finals since.  

Players to watch

Perrin Buford won the B.LEAGUE scoring title this season, averaging a career-best 22.4 points. This is Buford’s third season with the team. He recorded 10 triple-doubles, leading the team to a fourth-best 83.5 points a game this season.

Alvark Tokyo will be relying on their Spanish big man Sebas Saiz. This is his second season with the team after spending the 2020-21 season with Chiba Jets, where he was Finals MVP en route to his first B.LEAGUE title.  

The B.LEAGUE Championship begins tonight (Friday) with Shimane Susanoo Magic hosting Tokyo Alvark, and Nagoya Diamond Dolphins visiting Ryukyu Golden Kings.  

Both finalists in this year’s Championship will claim berths in EASL Season 2.

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